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But wait, there's more!
02/01/2018
Steve Goldberg's Wheel World
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But wait, there's more!

CHARLOTTE (Steve Goldberg's Wheel World) - A catchphrase from the infomercials on American television that has become part of the popular culture lexicon –  But wait, there's more! – is the perfect title for this column as the past year melds into the new.

The big stories included the IWBF Men's U23 World Championship that returned to where it all started in Canada as well as the 43 men’s and 19 women’s senior teams who participated in IWBF zonal championships for a spot in this year's world championship tournament that will be held in Hamburg next August.

As that ended, the domestic seasons began. FIBA says basketball is everywhere. It's also all the time. The ball never stops bouncing. 

Some growth comes from getting smaller. The future for the small-sided version of the wheelchair game received good news as it made part of the schedule for the 2022 Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham, England and application is in process to make it part of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

FIBA 3X3 will have already made its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the IWBF is looking to have the accessibility of the smaller roster and court requirements to help grow the game overall in developing countries and other nations that have the potential athletes but have yet to join the party.

In spite of its long history and recent gains, wheelchair basketball is still very nascent on the growth curve and efforts continue to bring the game to the people. The IWBF held a camp in Thailand which focused on bringing more women to the sport, specifically in the Asia region.

But that doesn't mean the game is fully developed in countries including the United States as evident in a local story from here in Charlotte.

"Basketball has completely changed everything."Rochelle Benton

While the Ball family has shown the downside of parent-child relationships in the sports arena, Rochelle and Landon Benton put a different and far more positive spin on it. They are, perhaps, the only mother-son combination competing in wheelchair basketball.

Both play for the Charlotte Rollin' Hornets. Rochelle for the Division 3 and Women's teams; Landon for the Junior Varsity team.

Both were born with tibial dysplasia, a congenital birth defect that resulted in both legs being amputated just above the knee.

Now 14, Landon has been playing since he was 6, while his mom tired of watching from the sideline and started three years ago. In fact, she had an open invitation from the adult team to play but she didn't want to risk impeding on her son's participation.

He was cool with it and her life will never be the same. 

PREPARATION > LUCK

When I was writing my last column, I included video of Patrick Anderson practicing half-court shots with the point being that these long range bombs were more method than miracle for accomplished players. If I'd known about it then, I surely would have added the video below as proof of concept.

Evidently, as the Twitterverse shows us, dunking is now part of wheelchair basketball. Tip Thiboutot was right. Wheelchairs can jump.

 Yeah, I know. He's just cutting down the net. But it took me a moment to realize he wasn't dunking. On the other hand...

I leave you with this message from the IWBF as we launch into the new year…

From the Wheel World column, thanks to all the athletes, officials, administrators, and fans who have and continue to carry the torch for over 60 years of basketball's wheel world. It's been a pleasure to cover it here for the past five plus years.

Come on 2018, what'ya got?

Steve Goldberg

FIBA

FIBA's columnists write on a wide range of topics relating to basketball that are of interest to them. The opinions they express are their own and in no way reflect those of FIBA.

FIBA takes no responsibility and gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the content or accuracy of the content and opinion expressed in the above article.

To help make this column as inclusive as possible, please send any national or international event information, story suggestions, or comments to wheelworldmail@gmail.com.

Steve Goldberg

Steve Goldberg

Eight years after first getting a glimpse of wheelchair basketball at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul when covering the Olympics for UPI, Steve Goldberg got the chance to really understand the game as Chief Press Officer for the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta. He's been a follower of the sport ever since. Over the years, the North Carolina-born and bred Tar Heel fan - but University of Georgia grad - has written on business, the economy, sports, and people for media including Time, USA Today, New York magazine, Reuters, Universal Sports, TNT, ESPN, New York Daily News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Olympian. Steve Goldberg's Wheel World will look at the past, present and future of wheelchair basketball.