Title:
BASKETBALL SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A basketball system may include a basketball goal and a support structure sized and configured to support the basketball goal at a desired height. The support structure may include a support pole. The basketball system may include a support member connected to a lower end of the support pole, which may form a generally T-shaped configuration. The basketball system may include one or more braces that may have a low profile and that may be connected to the support pole and/or the support member. The basketball system may include a base and one or more braces connecting to the support pole and the base. The base is preferably spaced apart from the support pole by a distance. The basketball goal may include a backboard that may include one or more receiving portions sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the base when in a packaging arrangement.



Inventors:
Nye, Curtis S. (Clinton, UT, US)
Phillips, Gary (Clearfield, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/734227
Publication Date:
10/11/2007
Filing Date:
04/11/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B63/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KLAYMAN, AMIR ARIE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Workman Nydegger (Salt Lake City, UT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A basketball system disposed in a packaging arrangement, the basketball system comprising: a basketball backboard including a rebound portion and a frame, the frame including an outer member, the outer member of the frame and the rebound portion forming a receiving portion; and a base including a hollow interior portion sized and configured to receive ballast material, at least a portion of the base being disposed within the receiving portion formed by the outer member of the frame and the rebound portion.

2. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the at least a portion of the base has a generally planar surface that abuts a generally planar rear surface of the rebound portion.

3. The basketball system as in claim 1, wherein the frame further includes a central support structure sized and configured to be connected to the outer member after the at least a portion of the base is removed from the receiving portion formed by the outer member of the frame and the rebound portion.

4. The basketball system as in claim 3, wherein the central support structure is sized and configured to be at least partially disposed within the receiving portion formed by the outer member of the frame and the rebound portion when the central support structure is connected to the outer member.

5. The basketball system as in claim 3, wherein at least a portion of the central support structure is sized and configured to abut a generally planar rear surface of the rebound portion when the central support structure is connected to the outer member.

6. The basketball system as in claim 3, wherein the central support structure includes a pair of generally straight supports.

7. The basketball system as in claim 3, wherein the central support structure includes a pair of angled supports.

8. A basketball system comprising: a basketball goal including a backboard and a rim; a support pole connected to the basketball goal; a wheel disposed proximate a lower end of the support pole; a base that is spaced apart at least 12 inches from the at least one wheel; and a brace connecting the base and the support pole.

9. The basketball system as in claim 8, wherein the base has a height and the base is spaced apart from the support by a distance at least twice as large as the height of the base.

10. The basketball system as in claim 8, further comprising: an elongated rigid member connected to the lower end of the support pole in a generally T-shaped configuration, the elongated rigid member abutting and being sized and configured to be connected to a support surface to secure the support pole in a generally fixed position.

11. The basketball system as in claim 10, further comprising an axle, the axle being connected to the elongated rigid member in a cantilevered arrangement, the axle being connected to the wheel.

12. The basketball system as in claim 10, further comprising: an axle connected to the elongated rigid member, the axle including a elongated body having a length and a positioning member extending outwardly from the elongated body; wherein the wheel includes a receiving portion, at least a portion of the positioning member being disposed within the receiving portion of the wheel and limiting the movement of the wheel along the length of the elongated body of the axle.

13. The basketball system as in claim 12, wherein the wheel further includes a first wheel section and a second wheel section connected to the first wheel section, a part of the receiving portion being formed in first wheel section, a part of the receiving portion being formed in second wheel section.

14. The basketball system as in claim 12, wherein the wheel further includes a first wheel section and a second wheel section connected to the first wheel section, at least a portion of the positioning member being sandwiched between the first and second wheel sections.

15. A basketball system comprising: a basketball goal; a support pole sized and configured to support the basketball goal above a playing surface, the support pole including an upper end disposed proximate the basketball goal and a lower end disposed proximate a support surface; an elongated rigid member connected to the lower end of the support pole in a generally T-shaped configuration; a first brace connected to the elongated rigid member and the support pole, the first brace including a top portion and a bottom portion, the top portion being disposed less than 12 inches from the support surface; and a second brace connected to the elongated rigid member and the support pole, the second brace including a top portion and a bottom portion, the top portion being disposed less than 12 inches from the support surface, the first and second braces being connected to generally opposing portions of the support pole.

16. The basketball system as in claim 15, wherein the top portion of the first brace is disposed less than 8 inches from the support surface; and wherein the top portion of the second brace is disposed less than 8 inches from the support surface.

17. The basketball system as in claim 15, wherein the top portion of the first brace is disposed between 8 to 12 inches from the support surface; and wherein the top portion of the second brace is disposed between 8 to 12 inches from the support surface.

18. The basketball system as in claim 15, further comprising a base that is spaced apart at least 12 inches from the support pole.

19. The basketball system as in claim 18, wherein the base has a width and a length, the length being larger than the width, the length extending rearwardly from the support pole.

20. The basketball system as in claim 15, further comprising a cover sized and configured to cover at least a portion of the support pole, at least a portion of the elongated rigid member, at least a portion of the first brace and at least a portion of the second brace.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/791,021, which was filed Apr. 11, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM.

This application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/791,396, which was filed Apr. 12, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM.

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/331,496, which was filed Jan. 12, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/331,496 claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application 60/643,340, which was filed Jan. 12, 2005 and entitled PORTABLE BASKETBALL SYSTEM. In addition, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/331,496 claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application 60/690,702, which was filed Jun. 15, 2005 and entitled BASKETBALL GOAL SYSTEM.

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,247, which was filed Mar. 5, 2007 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,247 claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/778,694, which was filed Mar. 3, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM.

This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,842, which was filed Mar. 6, 2007 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM. U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,842 claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/779,864, filed Mar. 6, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM. In addition, U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,842 claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/791,399, filed Apr. 12, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM.

Each of these applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention generally relates to sporting equipment and, in particular, to basketball systems.

2. Description of Related Art

The game of basketball typically includes a flat and level playing surface with a basketball goal at each end of the court. The basketball goal, which may include a backboard and a rim or hoop, is typically attached to the top of a support pole. The rim or hoop is normally located ten feet above the playing surface and the backboard may be constructed from materials such as wood, plastic or tempered glass.

Basketball is a very popular game and many people desire to play basketball at their home. Many basketball systems designed for home use require the basketball goal be permanently fixed in a particular location. For example, many home basketball systems are permanently positioned on the edge of the driveway. Disadvantageously, mounting a basketball goal adjacent to the driveway of the home may create a risk of damage to cars using the driveway or cars that are parked nearby. In addition, one or more cars may have to be moved before the basketball goal may be used.

Permanent basketball systems designed for use at home may also be difficult to install. For example, concrete or asphalt may be located where it is desired to install the permanent basketball system. Accordingly, the concrete or asphalt may have to be removed and/or replaced to allow the basketball system to be installed. Undesirably, removing and/or replacing the concrete or asphalt may be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. In addition, this would most likely prevent use of the driveway during the period of construction and repair.

Permanent basketball systems that are installed at home are usually located outdoors and are exposed to the harsh elements of the weather throughout the entire year. Disadvantageously, when conventional permanent basketball systems are constantly exposed to the elements such as rain, snow, sleet, high temperatures and high humidity, various components of the basketball systems may prematurely oxidize, corrode or rust. Premature oxidation, corrosion and rust can be particularly troublesome in basketball systems that have any moving parts, such as height adjustment mechanisms or breakaway rim assemblies. Moreover, constant exposure to the elements may cause failure of such mechanisms.

It is also known to use permanent basketball systems indoors. Indoor basketball systems, however, often require a large amount of space and must be located away from other structures to allow basketball to be played. For example, conventional indoor basketball systems must generally be spaced several feet away from the walls so that the walls do not interfere while playing basketball. These permanent basketball systems may limit or prevent the space from being used for other purposes. For example, schools typically have a gymnasium and basketball goals may be located near the ends or sides of the gymnasium. The basketball goals may undesirably preclude or interfere with use of the gymnasium for other purposes. In addition, on formal occasions, objection may be made to the appearance of the permanently mounted basketball goals.

Portable basketball systems that are movable from one location to another location are also known. Conventional portable basketball systems typically require a large amount of weight so that the basketball goal remains in a generally rigid, upright position for use when playing basketball or shooting baskets. In particular, many conventional portable basketball systems require a large and heavy base to prevent the basketball system from undesirably moving. The large and heavy base, however, may make the basketball systems very difficult to move and may require the assistance of several people to set up or relocate the systems. Additionally, these known portable basketball systems are often relatively expensive and that may prohibit people from using these systems at home.

Conventional portable basketball systems may use removable weights, such as sand bags or metal weights, which help maintain the basketball systems in a fixed position. Disadvantageously, these removable weights can be extremely heavy, difficult to lift and hard to position in the desired location. Accordingly, although these basketball systems using removable weights may be easier to move in relation to permanently mounted goals, the weights or weighted members are often not easy to move, lift or position, which may limit the usefulness of the portable basketball systems.

In an attempt to make portable basketball systems that are better suited for home use, large support bases with a hollow cavity for receiving ballast material, such as sand or water, were developed. These portable basketball systems may be moved into the desired location and then the support base may be filled with sand or water to add weight to the system, which would help prevent the system from undesirably moving during use. Disadvantageously, the large support bases of many conventional portable basketball systems are difficult to fill with sand or water. In addition, in order to move many of these portable basketball systems, the sand or water had to be removed and this may be very inconvenient and awkward.

The support bases for these known portable basketball systems are often quite large because a large amount of weight is required to maintain the basketball system in a stationary position while playing basketball. Undesirably, the large size of the support base may significantly increase shipping costs because the base is typically transported within a large, bulky package. The large size of the support base may also increase storage costs because of the size of the packaging. Additionally, because the support bases for conventional portable basketball systems may be quite large, a considerable amount of material may be required to construct the base, which may increase the cost of the portable basketball system. Further, the large support base may interfere with playing basketball because the players and/or basketball may strike or hit the base.

Many conventional basketball systems are also constructed from large and/or heavy parts. These large and heavy parts may make the basketball system difficult to manufacture and assemble. In addition, the large and heavy parts may make the basketball system difficult to install, especially if the consumer installs the basketball system. These large and heavy parts may also increase the size of the packaging, which can increase shipping costs. Further, the large and heavy parts are often shipped within large and bulky packaging, which may make it difficult for the consumer to transport the basketball system. For example, many consumers may not have access to vehicles (such as trucks, sport utility vehicles, or the like) that can transport the large packaging and thus may choose not to purchase the basketball systems.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

A need therefore exists for a basketball system that eliminates or diminishes the disadvantages and problems described above.

One aspect is a basketball system that may include a basketball goal, which may include a backboard, a rim and a net. The basketball system may also include a support structure that is sized and configured to support the basketball goal at a desired height above a playing surface. The support structure may support the basketball goal at a fixed height or the height of the basketball goal may be adjustable. In addition, the basketball system may be sized and configured to be fixed in permanent location or be part of a portable basketball system. Further, the basketball system may have various shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system. The basketball system may also include various parts and components, such as backboards, rims and the like, depending upon the intended use of the basketball system.

Another aspect is a basketball system that may be selectively moved from one location to another location. Desirably, the basketball system is a portable basketball system that is readily capable of being moved. Advantageously, the basketball system may be quickly and easily moved from one location to another, and the basketball system may be moved by a single person, if desired.

Still another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base. The base may include a hollow interior portion that is sized and configured to receive ballast, such as sand or water. The base may also include a relatively large surface or outer portion upon which one or more weights may be placed. The base is preferably constructed of relatively lightweight materials, such as blow-molded plastic. The basketball system may also include a support pole and one or more braces, and the braces may interconnect the base and the support pole to help secure the support pole in a desired position. Also, the basketball system may include one or more wheels to help move the basketball system to a desired location.

Yet another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base that is spaced apart from a support pole. Advantageously, with such spacing, the base may not interfere with playing basketball. In addition, such spacing may help facilitate a stable basketball system. For example, such spacing may advantageously provide a longer moment arm that allows the base to provide a greater resistance to undesired movement of the basketball system. In addition, such spacing may provide a longer moment arm that allows a smaller base to provide substantially the same resistance to movement that a larger base may provide. Advantageously, the smaller base may be more efficient to store and to ship. The smaller base may also require less material to construct, making the basketball system less expensive to manufacture.

Yet still another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base with a width and a length, and the length is preferably longer than the width. For example, the length of the base may be approximately twenty-five percent (25%) greater than the width of the base. The length could also be larger or smaller depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system. In greater detail, the base is preferably positioned such that the length of the base extends generally rearwardly and away from the basketball goal. Advantageously, the extended length of the base may provide a longer moment arm and that may allow the base to provide a greater resistance to undesired movement of the basketball system. In addition, the longer length of the base and increased moment arm may allow a smaller base to be used with the basketball system. Additionally, the smaller base may be sized and configured to provide substantially the same resistance to movement that a larger base would provide. Significantly, the smaller base may be more efficient to store and to ship that the larger base. In addition, the smaller base may require less material to construct and that may make the basketball system less expensive to manufacture than a basketball system with a larger base.

A further aspect is a basketball system that may be lightweight, which may facilitate shipping, transportation and storage of the basketball system. In addition, the basketball system may be packed within relatively small and compact packaging, which may also facilitate shipping, transportation and storage of the basketball system. The relatively small, lightweight packaging may reduce costs, for example, when shipping the basketball system from the factory to the store. In addition, this may allow consumers to easily transport the system from the store to their house. Further, the basketball system may be simple to assembly because it has few parts and is lightweight.

Another further aspect is a basketball system that may include a backboard, which may include a rebound portion and a frame. The backboard may also include one or more receiving portions, such as recessed areas. The receiving portions may receive at least a portion of one or more components of the basketball system, which may advantageously allow the basketball system to fit within a smaller area so that the size of its packaging may be decreased. For example, the basketball system may include a base, and at least a portion of the base may be disposed within the receiving portion of the backboard.

A still further aspect is a basketball system that may include a backboard with a frame that is disposed about a perimeter of the rebound portion. Advantageously, the frame does not require any central support structures (such as, H-shaped, Y-shaped and double I shaped support structures), which may allow the frame and the rebound portion to be sized and configured to receive a significant portion of the base and/or other components of the basketball system when the basketball system is being shipped or stored. The frame, however, may include a central support structure and the backboard may include a plurality of receiving portions. If the backboard includes a central support structure, it may be disconnected from the frame. This may allow the backboard to be shipped with the central support structure unattached from the frame, which may allow the frame and the rebound portion to form the single receiving portion.

Another aspect is a basketball system that may include backboard with a rebound portion and a frame. The frame may include an outer member and a central support structure. The central support structure may include one or more supports that may be connected to the outer member. For example, the central support structure may include a pair of angled supports extending from an upper portion of the outer member to a lower portion of the outer member. The central support structure may also include a pair of generally straight supports extending from an upper portion of the outer member to a lower portion of the outer member, and the central support structure may further include a pair of angled support connected to the generally straight supports.

Still another aspect is a basketball system that may include backboard that is constructed from different materials. For example, the backboard may include a frame that is constructed from metal and a central support member that is constructed from plastic. On the other hand, the backboard may include a rebound portion that is constructed from plastic, such as acrylic, and a frame that may be constructed from metal, such as steel. For example, the frame preferably includes a metal outer member and a central support structure that may include one or more metal supports. The metal supports may have a generally L-shaped body, a tubular body or other suitable configurations.

Yet another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base with a smaller size than a conventional base. For example, the basketball system may include a base that has a width and length that is approximately equal to or less than the width and length of the backboard. Advantageously, if the backboard and base have generally the same dimensions, then the backboard and base may be more easily disposed within the same package. In addition, this may allow the packaging to be smaller, which may result in decreased manufacturing, shipping and/or storage costs.

Yet still another aspect is a basketball system that may include a base with a height that is smaller than a base for a conventional basketball system. For example, the height of the base may be one-third, one-half or even smaller than the height of a conventional base. The decreased height of the base may result in decreased manufacturing, shipping and/or storage costs. Additionally, the base may have generally the same size as the backboard, which may facilitate packaging the base and backboard together. Further, the base may include textured surfaces to allow, for example, items to be placed on the base and/or increased contact with the playing surface.

A further aspect is a basketball system than may include a base with a relatively low profile. For example, the height of the base may be significantly less than either the width or the length of the base. For instance, the base may include a width of about two feet and a length of about three feet. The height of the base, however, may be much less than either the width or the length. In particular, the base may have a height of about six inches or less.

Another further aspect is a basketball system that may include a base, a support pole and one or more elongated braces that connect the support pole to the base. Advantageously, the elongated braces may allow the base to be spaced apart from the support pole.

A still further aspect is a basketball system that may include a pair of upper elongated braces and a pair of lower elongated braces, which may connect the support pole to the base. As the lower elongated braces extend away from the base, the lower elongated braces preferably extend toward the support pole and each other such that the lower braces form part a generally triangular configuration with the base. Advantageously, the generally triangular configuration may help the braces and the base reinforce and stabilize the basketball system. The lower braces may be connected to a lower portion of the base, if desired.

Another aspect is a basketball system that may include a support structure which includes a support pole. The support pole may consist of a unitary, one-piece structure or it may include multiple pieces that are interconnected. Advantageously, the support member may be connected to a support surface such as a playing surface or the ground. This may allow the bottom portion of the support pole to be secured in a fixed position, which may help secure the basketball system in a permanent location. Thus, in order to secure the basketball system in a fixed location, the support member may be connected to the ground. On the other hand, when it is desired to move the basketball system, the support member may be disconnected from the ground. If desired, one or more wheels may be connected to the support member or other portions of the basketball system to facilitate movement of the basketball system.

Still another aspect is a basketball system that may include one or more braces connected to the support pole and to the support member. In particular, a first brace may be attached to one side of the support pole and one end of the support member, and a second brace may be connected to the other side of the support pole and the other end of the support member. Advantageously, if the braces are connected to the sides of the support pole, then the braces may provide lateral support to the support pole. The braces may be connected to the support pole and the support member using one or more brackets, fasteners, connectors and the like.

Significantly, the braces connected to the support pole and the support member may be disposed proximate a lower portion of the support pole. In particular, the braces may have a low profile that may prevent the braces from interfering with using the basketball system. For example, the low-profile braces may include a top portion and a bottom portion, and the top portion may be disposed less than about eight to twelve inches (20.3 centimeters to 30.5 centimeters) from the support surface to help reduce the risk that the braces interfere with using the basketball system. The braces, for instance, may be sized and configured so that they are unlikely to be stepped on or contacted while using the basketball system. It will be appreciated, however, that the braces do not require a low profile and that portions of the braces may be disposed in any suitable position relative to the support surface.

Yet another aspect is a basketball system that may include a support structure with a support pole, a support member and one or more braces connected to the support pole and the support member. The basketball system may also include wheels and axles, which may facilitate movement of the basketball system. For example, the basketball system may include one or more axles and the axles may be cantilevered. If desired, the cantilevered axles may be connected to the support pole, the support member and/or the braces, which may allow one or more wheels to be quickly and easily connected to and/or disconnected from the axles. The axles preferably comprise hollow metal tubes, however, the axles may be constructed from other material having other suitable shapes and configurations.

Yet still another aspect is a basketball system that may include a cover that may be sized and configured to cover one or more portions of the basketball system. By covering certain portions of the basketball system, the cover may advantageously help protect those portions from damage such as by oxidation, corrosion and/or rust. In addition, the cover may provide a more appealing visual appearance. The cover is preferably constructed from plastic, but the cover may also be constructed from other suitable materials.

A further aspect is a basketball system that may include a support pole, a support member, one or more axles and/or one or more braces. The basketball system may also include a cover that may be sized and configured to cover at least a portion of the support pole, the support member, the axles and/or the braces. The cover preferably includes a hollow interior portion that is sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the support pole, the support member, the axles and/or the braces. The cover also preferably includes an opening that is sized and configured to couple a portion of the support pole.

These and other aspects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments and appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings contain figures of preferred embodiments to further illustrate and clarify the above and other aspects, advantages and features of the present invention. It will be appreciated that these drawings depict only preferred embodiments of the invention and are not intended to limit its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of an exemplary basketball system;

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is another partially exploded view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a top view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a portion of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 1, illustrating an exemplary support;

FIG. 7 is a rear perspective view of another exemplary basketball backboard that may be used in connection with a basketball system;

FIG. 8 is a partially exploded view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a rear view of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a rear view of a portion of the basketball backboard shown in FIG. 7;

FIG. 11 is a rear perspective view of a portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 12 is a partially exploded rear view of the portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a partially exploded front view of the portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 11;

FIG. 14 is a partially exploded view of a portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 1, illustrating a wheel, positioning member and axle;

FIG. 15 is a partially exploded view of the portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a portion of the wheel shown in FIG. 14;

FIG. 17 is another perspective view of the portion of the wheel portion shown in FIG. 16; and

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a portion of the basketball system shown in FIG. 1, illustrating an exemplary cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is generally directed towards a basketball system. The principles of the present invention, however, are not limited to a basketball system. It will be understood that, in light of the present disclosure, the basketball system disclosed herein can be successfully used in connection with other types of structures and devices, such as other types of sporting equipment.

Additionally, to assist in the description of the basketball system, words such as top, bottom, front, rear, right and left may be used to describe the accompanying figures, which are not necessarily drawn to scale. It will be appreciated, however, that the basketball system can be located in a variety of desired positions—including various angles, sideways and even upside down. A detailed description of the basketball system now follows.

As shown in FIG. 1, a basketball system 10 may include a basketball goal 12, which may include a backboard 14, a rim 16 and a net 18. The basketball system 10 may also include a support structure 20 that is sized and configured to support the basketball goal 12 at a desired height above a playing surface. The support structure 20 may support the basketball goal 12 at a fixed height or the height of the basketball goal 12 may be adjustable. In addition, the basketball system 10 may be sized and configured to be fixed in permanent location or be part of a portable basketball system. Further, the basketball system 10 and components thereof may have a variety of components that may have various shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system.

The support structure 20 may include one or more support members. For example, the support structure 20 may include a generally upright support member, such as a support pole 22, which may be connected to the basketball goal 12. The support pole 22 may consist of a unitary, one-piece structure or it may include multiple pieces that are interconnected.

The support structure 20 may also include one or more connecting members 24, 26, 28, 30 interconnecting the basketball goal 12 and the support pole 22. For example, the connecting members 24, 26, 28, 30 may include a first portion pivotally or otherwise movably connected to the basketball goal 12 and a second portion pivotally or otherwise movably connected to the support pole 22. Advantageously, a portion of the basketball goal 12, a first connecting member, a portion of the support pole 22 and a second connecting member may form at least a portion of a four-bar linkage. In addition, the portion of the basketball goal 12, the first connecting member, the portion of the support pole 22 and the second connecting member may have a generally parallelogram configuration. These components may also be pivotally connected to form part of a four-pivot linkage, if desired. It will be appreciated, however, that the connecting members 24, 26, 28, 30 may be connected to the basketball goal 12 and/or the support pole 22 in any other suitable fashion using one or more brackets, connectors, fasteners and/or any other suitable means. It will also be appreciated that the basketball system 10 does not require the connecting members 24, 26,28, 30 or any such linkages.

The basketball system 10 may include an adjustment assembly 36 sized and configured to move at least a portion of the support structure 20 to adjust the height of the basketball goal 12. For example, the adjustment assembly 36 may include an arm, a biasing member (such as compression springs, extension springs, torsion springs, leaf springs, gas springs and the like) and/or other suitable structures sized and configured to move at least a portion of the connecting members 24, 26, 28, 30 to adjust the height of the basketball goal 12. Desirably, this may allow adults, children and/or others to use the basketball system 10. It will be appreciated, however, that the basketball system 10 does not require the adjustment assembly 36 and does not require a height-adjustable basketball goal 12.

As shown in FIG. 1, the basketball system 10 may include a base 38 and one or more braces 40, 42, 44, 46, which may interconnect the base 38 and the support pole 22 to help secure the support pole in a desired position. The base 38 may include a hollow interior portion that is sized and configured to receive ballast, such as sand or water. The base 38 may also include a relatively large surface or outer portion upon which one or more weights may be placed. Further, the base 38 may include textured surfaces to allow, for example, items to be placed on the base and/or increased contact with the playing surface. The base 38 is preferably constructed of relatively lightweight materials, such as blow-molded plastic, but the base may be constructed using other materials and/or processes.

The basketball system 10 may also include one or more wheels 48, which may facilitate movement of the basketball system. For example, the wheels 48 may be disposed proximate the front portion of the basketball system 10 and the system may be pivoted onto the wheels to facilitate its movement. If desired, the wheels 48 may be rotatably or otherwise movably connected to one or more axles 50, which may permit the system to be pivoted about an axis of the axles. The axles 50 preferably comprise hollow metal tubes; however, the axles may be constructed from other material having other suitable shapes and configurations. It will be appreciated that the wheels 48 and axles 50 are not required.

As shown in FIG. 1, the backboard 14 may include a rebound portion 52 and a frame 54. If desired, the basketball system 10 may alternatively include an exemplary backboard 56 shown in FIG. 7, which may include a rebound portion 58 and a frame 60. It will be appreciated, however, that the basketball system 10 does not require either of the backboards 14, 56 and may include other backboards having other suitable components and designs.

The backboards 14, 56 may include one or more receiving portions 62, 64, such as recessed areas. The receiving portions 62, 64 may receive at least a portion of one or more components of the basketball system 10, which may advantageously allow the basketball system to fit within a smaller area so that the size of its packaging may be decreased. For example, in some exemplary packaging arrangements, at least a portion of the base 38 may be disposed within a receiving portion 62, 64, which may be formed by at least a portion of the rebound portions 52, 64 and at least a portion the frames 54, 60.

As shown in FIGS. 1-3, the frame 54 of the backboard 14 may include an outer member 66 and a central support structure 68, and as shown in FIGS. 7-8, the frame 60 of the backboard 56 may include an outer member 70 and a central support structure 72. The central support structures 68, 72 may include one or more supports that may be connected to the outer members 66, 70. For example, the central support structure 72 shown in FIGS. 7-8 may include a pair of angled supports 74, 76 extending from an upper portion 78 of the outer member 70 to a lower portion 80 of the outer member. Also, for example, the central support structure 68 shown in FIGS. 2-3 may include a pair of generally straight supports 82, 84 extending from an upper portion 86 of the outer member 66 to a lower portion 88 of the outer member. The central support structure 68 may also include a pair of angled supports 90, 92 connected to the generally straight supports. It will be appreciated that the central support structures 68, 72 may have a variety of suitable shapes, sizes, configurations and arrangements (including, but not limited to, H-shaped, Y-shaped and double-I shaped central support structures) depending, for example, upon the intended use of the basketball system 10.

The central support structures 68, 72 may contact, abut and/or engage a rebound portion of a backboard. For example, the supports 82, 84 may contact, abut and/or engage the rebound portion 52 of the backboard 14, and the supports 74, 76 may contact, abut and/or engage the rebound portion 64 of the backboard 56. Desirably, this may advantageously help strengthen and/or reinforce the rebound portions 52, 64. To help the central support structures 68, 72 contact, abut and/or engage the rebound portions 52, 64 at least a substantial portion of the central support structures may be disposed in a receiving portion formed by the rebound portions and the outer members 66, 70, for instance, the receiving portions 62, 64. It will be appreciated, however, that the central support structures 68, 72 need not contact, abut and/or engage the rebound portions 52, 64 and that the central support structures may be spaced apart from the rebound portions.

The central support structures 68, 72 may be sized and configured to be quickly and easily attached to the other portions of the frames 54, 60, such as the outer members 66, 70. For example, as shown in FIGS. 4-6, the supports 82, 84 may include openings 94, 96 that may be aligned with openings 98, 100 formed in the upper and lower portions 86, 88 of the outer member 66 to receive fasteners that may interconnect the supports and the outer member 66. Because the central support structures 68, 72 may be quickly and easily attached to the outer members 66, 70, the central support structures may be arranged in various packaging arrangements in which the central support structures are unattached from the outer members. For instance, the outer member 66 and the rebound portion 52 may form a single receiving portion 62 (such as shown in FIG. 3) sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the base 38 in a packaging arrangement, and the outer member 70 and the rebound portion 58 may form a single receiving portion 64 (such as shown in FIG. 8) sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the base 38 in a packaging arrangement. The central support structures 68, 72 may be attached to the outer members 66, 70 and/or the other portions of the frames 54, 60 using one or more brackets, connectors, fasteners and/or any other suitable means.

The rebound portions 52, 58 are preferably constructed from plastic, such as acrylic or polycarbonate. The frames 54, 60; the central support structures 68, 72; and the outer members 66, 70 are preferably constructed from metal, such as steel. It will be appreciated, however, that the rebound portions 52, 58; the frames 54, 60; the central support structures 68, 72; and the outer members 66, 70 may be constructed from other suitable materials.

The supports 74, 76, 82, 84 of the central support structures preferably have a generally L-shaped body including a first flange that contacts, abuts and/or engages a generally planar rear surface of the rebound portions and a second flange that extends away from the rear surface. The outer members 66, 70 preferably have a generally tubular body. It will be appreciated, however, that the central support structures 68, 72 and the outer members 66, 70 may have other suitable configurations having other suitable shapes.

As mentioned, in some packaging arrangements, a portion of the base 38 may be disposed within a receiving portion of a backboard (such as the receiving portions 52, 64 of the backboards 14, 56). When the receiving portion receives a portion of the base 38, the portion of the base may contact, abut and/or engage a rebound portion of the backboard (such as, the rebound portions 52, 58). For example, the base 38 may include a generally planar surface (such as, an upper surface 102 shown in FIG. 1), which may contact, abut, engage and/or be flush with a generally planar rear surface of the rebound portion. Other suitable aspects for basketball systems and packaging arrangements for basketball systems are disclosed in Assignee's copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,842, which was filed Mar. 6, 2007 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

As shown in FIG. 1, the base 38 may be spaced apart from the support pole 22 and/or the wheels 48. In addition, if the basketball system 10 may be pivoted or rotated about the axles 50 to facilitate moving the basketball system, then the base 38 may also be spaced apart from the pivot point. The base 38 is preferably spaced between about two to three feet (61 centimeters to 91 centimeters) apart from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point. The base 38, however, may be spaced apart at lesser distances from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point, such as about two to three inches (5.1 to 7.6 centimeters), six inches (15.2 centimeters), one foot (30.5 centimeters) or more. In addition, the base 38 may be spaced apart at greater distances from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point.

The base 38 may have a low profile. For example, the base 38 may include a height that is less than or equal to about the diameter of the wheels 48. The base 38 may also have a height that is less than or equal to about six inches (15.2 centimeters) or eight inches (20.3 centimeters). In addition, the base 38 may have a height that is between about three to five inches (7.6 centimeters to 12.7 centimeters), such as about four inches (10.2 centimeters). If desired, the base 38 could be spaced apart from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point a distance that is greater than the base's height. In particular, the distance separating the base 38 and the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point may be one or more times the base's height. For instance, the distance could be equal to two or more times the base's height. It will be appreciated that the base 38 may have a larger or smaller height.

Desirably, with the base 38 spaced apart from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point, the base 38 may not interfere with playing basketball. In addition, such spacing may help facilitate a stable basketball system 10. For example, such spacing may advantageously provide a longer moment arm that allows the base 38 to provide a greater resistance to undesired movement of the basketball system 10. In addition, such spacing may provide a longer moment arm that allows a smaller base to provide substantially the same resistance to movement that a larger base may provide. Advantageously, the smaller base may be more efficient to store and to ship. The smaller base may also require less material to construct, making the basketball system less expensive to manufacture. Other suitable aspects for basketball systems and bases are disclosed in Assignee's copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/331,496, which was filed Jan. 12, 2006 and entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. It will be appreciated, however, that the base 38 need not be spaced apart from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 or the pivot point depending, for example, upon the design or intended use of the basketball system 10.

As shown in FIG. 1, the base 38 may have a width and a length, and the length may be longer than the width. The length of the base 38 preferably extends rearwardly from the basketball goal 12 and/or the support pole 22, which may advantageously provide an even longer moment arm that allows the base to provide even greater resistance to undesired movement of the basketball system 10. In addition, thus permitting an even smaller base to be used. The length of the base 38 is preferably at least about 25 percent longer than the width of the base. It will be appreciated, however, that the length of the base 38 may be longer or shorter. It will also be appreciated that the length of the base 38 may the same as, less than or greater than the width of the base depending, for example, upon the particular configuration of the base.

The base 38 may advantageously be smaller than a conventional base. For example, the height of the base 38 may be one-third, one-half or even smaller than the height of a conventional base. In addition, the height of the base 38 may be significantly less than either the width or the length of the base. For instance, the base 38 may have a width of about two feet and a length of about three feet, which the base 38 may have a height of about six inches (15.2 centimeters) or less. The decreased height of the base 38 may result in decreased manufacturing, shipping and/or storage costs. In addition, the base 38 may have a width and length that is approximately equal to or less than the width and length of the backboard 14. Advantageously, if the backboard 14 and base 38 have generally the width and length, then the backboard and base may be more easily and compactly disposed within the same package. This may also allow the package to be smaller, which may result in decreased manufacturing, shipping and/or storage costs. It will be appreciated, however, that the base 38 may have a larger or smaller width, length and/or height and that the base does not require any particular dimension or size.

As mentioned above, an upper pair of braces 40, 42 and a lower pair of braces 44, 46 may interconnect the base 38 and the support pole 22. These braces are preferably elongated so that the base 38 is spaced apart from the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point discussed above.

In further detail, as shown in FIGS. 11-13, the lower pair of braces 44, 46 may include a first end 104, 106 that may be connected to the support pole 22 and a second end 108, 110 that may be connected to the base 38. In particular, the first ends 104, 106 may be connected to the sides of a lower portion of the support pole 22, and the second ends 108, 110 may be connected to a lower portion of the base 38.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 11, as the braces 44, 46 extend away from the base 38, the braces preferably extend toward the support pole 22 and each other such that the braces form part a generally triangular configuration with the base. Likewise, as the braces 44, 46 toward the base 38, the braces preferably extend laterally from the support pole 22 and each other, such that the braces form part a generally triangular configuration with the base. Advantageously, the generally triangular configuration may help the braces 44, 46 and the base 38 reinforce and stabilize the basketball system 10.

If desired, the basketball system 10 may include a brace 112 that may be connected to the braces 44, 46, which may further stabilize and/or reinforce the braces 44, 46. For example, the brace 1 12 may consist of an elongated tube or rod that is connected to the braces 44, 46 proximate the base 38. The brace 112 may help position the braces 44, 46 in the desired locations and it may help prevent the braces 44, 46 from undesirably moving. The brace 112 may also help connect the braces 44, 46 to the base 38. The basketball system 10, however, does not require the brace 112.

As shown in FIG. 11, the bottom portion of the support pole 22 may also be connected to a support member 114, which may form a generally T-shaped configuration. The support member 114 may be sized and configured to contact, abut and/or engage a support surface, such as the playing surface or the ground. Advantageously, the support member 114 may also be connected to the support surface. Significantly, this may secure the bottom portion of the support pole 22 in a fixed position, which may help secure the basketball system 10 in a fixed location. Thus, in order to secure the basketball system 10 in a fixed location, the support member 114 may be connected to the support surface. On the other hand, when it is desired to move the basketball system 10, the support member 114 may be disconnected from the support surface.

In greater detail, a pair of flanges 116, 118 may be connected to the support pole 22 and the support member 114 to interconnect the support pole and the support member. In particular, the flanges 116, 118 may be fixedly connected to the support member 114 using, for instance, one or more welds. In addition, the support pole 22 and the flanges 116, 118 may include openings that may be aligned to receive fasteners to fixedly connect the flanges to the support pole. For example, as shown in FIG. 13, the support pole 22 and the flanges 116, 118 may include one or more upper openings 120, 122, 124, which may be aligned to receive a first fastener, and one or more lower openings 126, 128, 130, which may be aligned to receive a second fastener. In addition, the braces 44, 46 may include openings 132, 134 that may also be aligned with the openings 126, 128, 130 to receive the second fastener to interconnect the braces, the flanges 116, 118 and/or the support pole 22. It will be appreciated, however, that the flanges 116, 118 are not required and that the support member 114 may be connected to the support pole 22 using one or more suitable connectors, fasteners, welds, adhesives and/or any other suitable means.

As mentioned above, the support member 114 may be connected to the support surface. For example, one or more fasteners, connectors or the like may be secured to the support surface using cement, and the support member 114 may include one or more openings sized and configured to receive the fasteners or connectors. Desirably, the support member 114 may be sized and configured to be quickly and easily connected to and disconnected from the fasteners or connectors, which may allow the basketball system 10 be selectively secured to the support surface. It will be appreciated, however, that the support member 114 may be connected to the support surface using any suitable structures and/or means.

The support member 114 may be spaced apart from the base 38. In particular, the support member 114 may be spaced apart from the base in the same or similar fashion as the support pole 22, the wheels 48 and/or the pivot point are spaced apart from the base, as discussed above. It will be appreciated, however, that the support member 114 need not be spaced apart from the base 38.

The support member 114 may be constructed from a rigid material, such as metal. Desirably, if the support pole 22 is connected to a generally rigid support member 114 that is secured to the support surface, then the support pole 22 may remain an in a generally fixed position when substantial forces are applied to the basketball system 10, such as when a player dunks a basketball and/or contacts the rim 16. In addition, this may help the basketball system 10 experience less wear and tear when such forces are applied.

If desired, the support member 114 may have an elongated configuration, a tubular configuration, a solid rod-like configuration, and/or other suitable configurations. The support member 114 may have a cross-sectional shape that is generally rectangular, square, circular, oval, oblong, polygonal, U-shaped, I-shaped and/or other suitable cross-sectional shape. It will be appreciated, however, that the support member 114 may have a variety of other suitable shapes and/or configurations and may be constructed from other materials having other suitable characteristics.

As shown in FIG. 7, the basketball system 10 may include one or more braces 136, 138, 140, 142. The braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may include elongated strips and the braces may be connected to the support member 114 and the flanges 116, 118 using, for example, one or more welds. In particular, a first pair of braces 136, 138 may be attached to the flange 116 and one end of the support member 114, and a second pair of braces 140, 142 may be connected to the flange 118 and the other end of the support member 114. Advantageously, if the flanges 116, 118 are connected to the sides of the support pole 22, then the flanges and the braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may provide lateral support to the support pole. It will be appreciated that the braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may be connected to the support pole 22, the support member 114 and/or the flanges 116, 118 using one or more suitable connectors, fasteners, welds, adhesives and/or any other suitable means. It will also be appreciated that the braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may include other components having other suitable shapes and/or configurations.

Desirably, the braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may have a low profile that may prevent the braces from interfering with use of the basketball system 10. The braces 136, 138, 140, 142, for instance, may be sized and configured so that they are unlikely to be stepped on or contacted while using the basketball system 10. In particular, the low-profile braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may include a top portion and a bottom portion, and the top portion may be disposed less than about eight to twelve inches (20.3 centimeters to 30.5 centimeters) from the support surface and/or a lower portion of the support member 114. In addition, the low-profile braces 136, 138, 140, 142 may be disposed at an angle that is between 20 to 30 degrees, between 20 to 25 degrees, less than 30 degrees, less than 25 degrees, less than 20 degrees and/or other angles relative to the support surface and/or the lower portion 140 of the support member 114.

An engagement member 144 shown in FIG. 13 may be sized and configured to contact, abut and/or engage the support surface. The engagement member 144 may be connected to, or form part of, the support member 114.

As shown in FIGS. 12-13, the axles 50 may be connected to the support member 114 and/or the braces 136, 138, 140, 142 using, for example, one or more welds. Desirably, the axles 50 may be cantilevered, which may allow the wheels 48 to be quickly and easily connected to and/or disconnected from the axles. In addition, the cantilevered axles 50 may allow the wheels 48 to have a wider, more stable stance. For instance, to provide a wider, more stable stance, the wheels 48 may be generally flush with or extend beyond the ends of the cantilevered axles 50. It will be appreciated that the axles 50 need not be cantilevered and that the axles and the wheels 48 may be disposed in any suitable relative position.

As shown in FIGS. 14-15, a wheel 48 may include a first portion or section 146 and a second portion or section 148 that may be interconnected to form the wheel. The wheel portions 146, 148 may be connected using fasteners; adhesives; a snap fit, a friction fit and/or an interference fit; and/or any other suitable means. Advantageously, constructing the wheel 48 from the wheel portions 146, 148 may allow the wheel to have a variety of sizes, shapes and configurations. In addition, this may allow the wheel 48 and/or basketball system 10 to be efficiently shipped because the wheel may be shipped in the unassembled position and the wheel may be quickly and easily attached to the basketball system.

The wheel portions 146, 148 are preferably constructed from plastic using an injection molding process. If desired, the wheel portions 146, 148 may be formed using the same mold, which may allow the portions to be interchangeable as shown in FIGS. 16-17. Desirably, the injection-molded wheel portions 146, 148 may include openings 150 sized and configured to be aligned to receive fasteners to interconnect the wheel portions. It will be appreciated, however, that the wheel portions 146, 148 do not have to be interchangeable. It will also be appreciated that the other suitable materials and/or processes may be used to construct the wheel 48, the wheel portions 146, 148 and/or the openings 150.

As shown in FIG. 11, the axles 50 may support the wheels 48. For example the wheels 48 may include an opening and the axles 50 may be disposed in the openings. If desired, the wheels 48 may rotate relative to the axles 50, the axles 50 may rotate relative to the wheels and/or the axles and the wheels may rotate together relative to the basketball system 10.

As shown in FIGS. 14-15, an axle 50 may include a positioning member 152, which is sized and configured to limit the movement of the wheel along the length of the axle. For example, a wheel 48 may include one or more receiving portions that are sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the positioning member 152 of the axle 50, and the positioning member may contact, abut and/or engage the wheel 48 to limit the wheel's movement along the axle's length.

In further detail, as shown in FIG. 15, the axle 50 may include an elongated body 154 and the positioning member 152 may extend outwardly from the axle's body. As shown in FIG. 16, one or both of the wheel portions 146, 148 may form at least a part of a generally circular receiving portion 156, which may receive at least a portion of the positioning member 152. With at least a portion of the positioning member 152 disposed in the receiving portion 156, the wheel 48 may rotate about the axle 50, while the positioning member limits the wheel's movement along the length of the axle.

As shown in FIGS. 14-15, the positioning member 152 preferably comprises an elongated pin that may be inserted into openings 158 formed in the axle 50. After inserting the positioning member 152 into the openings 158, the wheel sections 146, 148 may be interconnected to secure the positioning member within the wheel's receiving portion 156. It will be appreciated, however, that the positioning member 152 may be connected to the axle 50 in other suitable fashions and that the positioning member and the wheel's receiving portion 156 may have a variety of other suitable shapes and/or configurations.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 18, the basketball system 10 may include a cover 160 sized and configured to cover one or more portions of the basketball system. By covering certain portions of the basketball system 10, the cover 160 may advantageously help protect those portions from oxidation, corrosion and/or rust. In addition, the cover 160 may provide a more appealing visual appearance. The cover 160 is preferably constructed from plastic; however, the cover may be constructed from other suitable materials.

The cover 160 is preferably sized and configured to cover at least a portion of the support pole 22; the axles 50; the support member 114; and/or the braces 136, 138, 140, 142. The cover 160 preferably includes a hollow interior portion 162 sized and configured to receive at least a portion of the support pole 22; the axles 50; the support member 114; and/or the braces 136, 138, 140, 142. The cover 160 also preferably includes an opening 164 sized and configured to couple a portion of the support pole 22.

Other aspects and features that may be used in connection with the basketball systems described above are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/331,496, which was filed Jan. 12, 2006, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM; U.S. provisional patent application 60/643,340, which was filed Jan. 12, 2005, entitled PORTABLE BASKETBALL SYSTEM; U.S. provisional patent application 60/690,702, which was filed Jun. 15, 2005, entitled BASKETBALL GOAL SYSTEM; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,247, , which was filed Mar. 5, 2007, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM; U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/778,694, which was filed Mar. 3, 2006, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/682,842, which was filed Mar. 6, 2007, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM; U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/779,864, filed Mar. 6, 2006, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM; and U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/791,399, filed Apr. 12, 2006, entitled BASKETBALL SYSTEM. Each of these applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.

Although this invention has been described in terms of certain preferred embodiments, other embodiments apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art are also within the scope of this invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is intended to be defined only by the claims which follow.