PHOENIX – The 3rd Annual Bounce With the Suns dibbling competition started Sunday morning with 75 people hoping to win the grand prize – a road trip for two with the Phoenix Suns during the 2011-2012 season.
Twenty-one hours into it, that number was down to 17. Several more dropped out as the morning gave way to afternoon. More than 27 hours after the first bounce, just eight tenacious dribblers were still going.
The contest finally came to an end early Tuesday morning -- yes, Tuesday morning, when mortician Nick Ketner out-dribbled everyone else. Ketner won when his last remaining opponent lost his dribble while reaching for a banana just before 5 a.m.
The competitors were allowed stand, sit, eat and drink – they could do pretty much anything they wanted – as long as they kept dribbling. Two-handed dibbling was not allowed.
What about the call of nature? With a competition that ran nearly 48 hours, it’s a valid question. The contestants got one five-minute break every two hours.
The dribble-‘til-you-drop competition benefited the Health & Wealth Raffle.
It’s not just the dribblers who were competing for the chance to travel with the Phoenix Suns.
“Anybody who buys a Health & Wealth raffle ticket while these folks are still dribbling – if you buy that ticket, you’re also going to have a chance to travel with the Suns,” said Kathy Rice, the executive director of the Health & Wealth Raffle.
The contest, which was initially expected to last about 18 hours, was as much mental as it was physical, said Tim Kempton of the Phoenix Suns.
“Can you stand there and just bounce the ball, and bounce the ball, and bounce the ball?” he asked. “These guys are determined.”
"They put the 'fan' in 'fanatic,'" said Suns broadcaster and former player Scott Williams of the competitors.
One of the dribblers, who is known only as "Mr. Orange," told 3TV's Yetta Gibson Monday morning that he would stick with it as long as it takes.
"Your body just feels like Gumby," he said. "It's more mental, though. Your body you can deal with, but the boredom of just dribble, dribble, dribble, and listening to that bounce -- especially overnight when nobody is here -- that's the hardest thing."
Mr. Orange did not make it to the end.
Ketner, who had hoped to set a world record for the longest dribble, said he will take his son with him when he joins the Suns on a road trip some time this season.