It was undoubtedly the highlight of my driveway basketball career – the day I could finally dunk on a 10-foot rim.
I can still remember it today, nearly 15 years later. Timing out my steps, taking off on my right foot, throwing my sisters’ women’s sized basketball through the hoop and feeling the rim hit my fingers. Months of practice had paid off, and I couldn’t wait to show my dad after he got home from work.
I waited for him, practicing the routine and anticipating what he would say. When he finally pulled into the garage, I was ready. I bounded across the driveway, elevated, slammed the ball… and tore the rim straight off the backboard.
My dad’s reaction: “Great” accompanied by an exasperated look.
Not exactly Bill Raftery and not quite what I’d pictured.
Basketball systems have come a long way since then. And whether you’re looking to put up a hoop to get you through a few years or one to practice like an NBA All-Star, Sports Unlimited has something for you. After choosing our top five favorites a few years ago, here’s a look at a variety of our top picks for adjustable hoops to suit any budget.
One of our least expensive systems, the Five-Star Intruder won’t take up a lot of space in the driveway but will give you a reliable hoop. The system comes with a 3″ round pole, a 30″x44″ clear acrylic backboard, a flex rim and a backboard pad. An EZ Crank Height Adjuster will allow you to vary the rim height between 7.5′ and 10′ and a three-foot deep footing will secure the pole. If you’re just starting out, this pole is a great option.
The Spalding NBA 88355 is an affordable hoop from same quality manufacturer the NBA trusts. Slightly larger than the Five-Star Intruder, this system comes with a 50″ acrylic backboard that’s perfect for young players to start on. It has 1/2″ support arms to provide sturdiness and realistic rebounding and is adjustable from 7.5′-10′ feet in six-inch increments. The three piece system is easy to set up and includes a 3.5″ round steel pole that goes directly into the ground.
An upgrade on the 88355, this basketball hoop won’t break your budget and won’t break down with heavy use. Constructed using a 4-inch square pole, the 88365 is more supportive than most other poles in its price range. It can also stand up to Mother Nature thanks to rust-resistant powder coated steel components. The backboard is slightly bigger than our other picks in this range, measuring 32″x54″, and is made from acrylic. It’s also equipped with Spalding’s U-Turn lift system to easily adjust from 7.5′ to 10′.
One of the most important things to look for in a basketball system is rigidity and First Team offers that with its Champ III Adjustable Basketball Hoop. This hoop includes a 4″x4″, 11-gauge steel pole that’s heavier than most others. That means your 36″x54″ acrylic backboard will stay firm when you’re looking to bank home a winning shot. The Insta-Just height adjustment doesn’t require any tools and will allow you to set the rim from 7.5′ to 10′ for various levels of play. As an added bonus it comes with First Team’s Lifetime Superior Warranty, which covers any damage or failure caused by basketball activity.
As soon as your hoop is up, you’re going to want to have your friends over to play. Imagine their look when they see the styling of the Smoked Lottery Pick Adjustable Basketball Hoop from Bison. The smoked tempered glass tinted backboard does more than look the part. It also provides some function, reducing the sun’s glare on bright days. The hoop adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′ and has a 30″ offset, so there’s room to battle under the boards without fear of banging into the pole. The pole is mounted with a direct barrier 30 inches into the ground. This hoop includes a Lifetime Limited Warranty from Bison to cover damage from “normal or intended use.”
A new kid on the block, the GameChanger GC44-LG Adjustable Basketball System offers incredible value. Its 4″x4″ pole is one solid piece, providing superior strength to the two-piece pole used by most competitors. Unlike the systems above, this hoop is made to go with you if you move thanks to its anchor bolt mounting system. Like its competitors, the GC44-LG adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′ and has a 30″ offset. It also comes with a breakaway rim and post and backboard pads for maximum safety. Each hoop has black powder coat paint to resist harsh weather conditions and GameChanger’s lifetime warranty makes it a strong choice.
When you enter the highest price range you get some bells and whistles and the Triple Eight Series doesn’t disappoint. In fact, we like this series so much at Sports Unlimited that we’re installing its big brother behind our warehouse later this week. What makes it special? How about the 3/8″ tempered glass that will provide true rebounds off the 54″x36″ backboard. Or maybe its the durability of a 5″ square steel pole, covered with an accompanying pole pad, that will offer strong support. Spalding is the officially-licensed brand of the NBA and this backboard has the sticker to prove it. The stainless steel poles won’t rust and a 3′ board offset gives you plenty of room to do your best Dr. J impression to wow your friends. You can do that at a variety of heights as this system adjusts from 7.5′ to 10′.
If you lie in bed late at night dreaming of walking across the stage and shaking hands with David Stern, then you may want to invest in a Spalding Arena View. The unique design of the support bars, which attach to the widest part of the backboard, will offer unmatched rigidity to give you a true feel on the 1/2″ tempered glass. A 60″x38″ backboard will allow you enough space to practice this with a 180-degree breakaway rim to protect from injury. Like the Triple Eight Series, the Arena View also has a 3′ offset and has the U-Turn Pro lift system to make it easy to adjust it from 7.5′-10′. Its also NBA licensed and comes with a stadium-style pole pad.
For maximum features at a great price, look no further than the Triple Threat TPT664-XXL. A 6″ square post and a 42″x72″ backboard are the same specs used by the pros. One of its best features is that it adjusts from 10′ all the way down to 5.5′ so you can get started early on grooming the next Lebron. The basket features a 4′ offset to keep you away from the pole and also comes with post and backboard pads for added safety. A galvanized WeatherShield undercoat and black powder top coat make this system weather-proof and it also has a bolt down anchor base so it can move along with you.
||By Lou Rusnock
Lou is a writer at Sports Unlimited.