In need of a basketball game?

6/25/2011, 9:09 a.m.
In need of a basketball game?

Each eight-week season consists of one game per week, culminating in a championship game for each region. Weekend tournaments and three-on-three events are also part of the experience Ultimate Hoops provides Life Time members. In 2012, Life Time also will bring the regional champions together for one national championship.

But Ultimate Hoops is about a lot more than competition. "Games on the court are a small part of what it is," says Alan Arlt, Ultimate Hoops founder and Life Time senior director of basketball operation. "Off the court there's a 24/7 basketball experience online." At www.uhlife.com, players can keep track of their season and career stats, find articles that promote the games and players nationwide, see photos and videos and even talk smack with their competitors.

"I like comparing stats and checking out the upcoming schedule," Williams says about the Ultimate Hoops website. "I'm always checking out the headlines and being able to comment on articles and player profiles is fun. It definitely helps the experience."

That experience often extends beyond the court and website. "As players get more immersed in the league both on the court and online they start forming friendships through our Ultimate Hoops community," says Arlt. "It's great to see players and fans who have never met before connecting through an Ultimate Hoops kinship."

That's true for Ho who socializes with players online and off the court, too. "I was on a free agent team my first season and I actually ended up connecting well with a lot of my opponents," he says. "I even convinced a few of my friends to join Life Time specifically for Ultimate Hoops."

Ho believes the name "Ultimate Hoops," aptly describes the experience. "Not only have they combined all the best aspects of the leagues I've played in, they've cultivated a thriving community of active players and entertaining personalities that provides a far-reaching and engaging experience," he says. "Local success and banter can often lead to regional national rivalries and debates, which is unique to Ultimate Hoops and really delivers a pro-type experience from both a player and fan perspective."

While Ultimate Hoops caters to the "Average Joe," the experience is so good, even former professional players like Michael Finley and Penny Hardaway enjoy the league, too. Lindsey Hunter, a successful NBA star who played on a team at the Old Orchard Life Time in Skokie, Ill. in 2010, said in an Ultimate Hoops interview during the playoffs, "I've got two NBA championships, I might as well get an Ultimate Hoops Championship to go with them."

Ultimate Hoops has grown significantly this year, and with the addition of several pilot leagues, including Ultimate Hoops Preps, for ages 13 to 17, and Ultimate Hoops Juniors, for ages 3 to 12, it's sure to grow more. "In partnership with Life Time Kids, we're also working on a comprehensive, progression based program for Ultimate Hoops Juniors," Arlt says. "The potential for the youth programs is immense."

Ultimate Hoops is also starting up women's leagues. The first all-female league began in Detroit this spring. Players preferred the championship prize of Life Spa pedicures over medals. Women's leagues will organize soon in Minneapolis and Chicago.