Yes, it’s that time of spring when the thoughts of men (and women) of all ages turn to one thing…March Madness!! Who would have imagined that when the first basketball game was played in December 1891 that James Naismith’s solution for seasonal youth boredom would generate an avalanche of inventions and innovations. According to the US Patent Office database, some 1337 patents issuing since 1971 include the term “basketball” in at least one of their respective patent claims. These inventions range from athletic footwear, basketballs, backboards, scoreboards, basketball net and rim designs, and telescoping and pivoting pole designs to hundreds of basketball novelty items, including our favorite, last week’s newly issued U.S. Design Patent D612189, directed to a basketball goal shaped popcorn maker in which the popcorn emerges from an opening in the backboard and falls through the net for further dispensing. Hold the butter; we don’t want to lose our grip on the ball!!