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In White Men Can’t Jump, Sidney Dean (Wesley Snipes) famously told Billy Hoyle (Woody Harrelson), “Look man, you can listen to Jimi (Hendrix), but you can’t hear him. There’s a difference, man. Just because you’re listening to him doesn’t mean you’re hearing him.” Sidney and Billy clearly weren’t balling on a court with Spalding’s new iHoop. If they had been, Jimi would’ve been loud enough for Billy to listen and hear.

The most obvious response to the introduction of the iHoop is: what took so long? According to Spalding, the iHoop is the first basketball hoop ever to feature built-in speakers capable of blaring Jimi for all to hear. With an old-school boom box sitting against the fence of every urban basketball court in America, you’d think someone would’ve thought of this earlier. At a suggested retail price of $1,299, we’re not expecting this to grace the asphalt of most inner city courts, but Country Clubs’ bricklayers wanting some James Taylor to jam to might make the investment.

The iHoop, available June 1st, has a specialized suspension cradle that connects an iPod or MP3 while protecting it from any hard fouls. A pouch literally hangs from a series of cables within a cavity in the base of the hoop to ensure it won’t bump into anything or get scratched up. A fully integrated 30-watt 2.1 stereo system pumps the sound through two 3″ full range speakers and a 5″ subwoofer. All of the components are marine grade, to ensure a light drizzle won’t stop the music.

While we’re impressed by this first, and well overdue, product, there are three features we’d recommend for version 2.0. First, the current offering allows mp3 connections, but doesn’t include a built-in radio. It should. Second, we’d recommend a full court stereo version; this should include two hoops, both with speakers, and a synchronized connection so you never miss the chorus to Don’t Stop Believing while on a fast break. Lastly the current version requires a 120V electrical outlet to operate. That’s not exactly a basketball court standard, and in most cases will require the running of an extension cord across the ground (safety hazard). How about a battery powered version? Or, even better, let’s go green and tap into the sun to power the system.

While we’re offering our expert advice Pro Bono, here’s one final idea. Each time the iHoop is turned on or off, it should play the following quote from the incomparable Rosie Perez in her, umm, unforgettable voice, while playing the role of Gloria Clemente in White Men Can’t Jump.

“Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.”

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