Summer League Madness
When you walk into the gym here at UNLV's Cox Pavilion for the Las Vegas Summer League, the first thing you see is 200 day campers in matching t-shirts from the Durango Hills YMCA. Many of them have mohawks. These Vegas kids.
The next thing you see, or at least the next thing I saw, was Ron Artest's brother Daniel, who's playing for the Sacramento Kings' Summer League team. Let me quote liberally from his bio:
"Most recently played for the ABA's Atlanta Vision...Had signed a deal to play in Germany with 3rd division team Saarlouis Royals...Played at Westchester Community College before finishing collegiate career at Southern Nevada...Did not played (sic) organized basketball until was 22 years old."
Oh yeah, and he's listed at 6-5, 280, but is probably more like 6-2, 300. Not exactly the prototypical NBA shooting guard. I wonder how he made the Kings' Summer League roster?
[Eventually, I noticed Ron Artest sitting in the front row, with a bright green stuffed animal in his lap. Word out of New York is, Isiah Thomas is attempting to pull off a trade for the bright green stuffed animal.]
[First-round PIstons pick Rodney Stuckey just walked past with an Eastern Washington backpack. The Pistons luggage must not have come in yet.]
Then you scan the Wizards bench, and nearby you see Calvin Booth in nice plaid shorts and a massive white button-down shirt. Calvin Booth may not be a Summer Leaguer, but he was probably the biggest hoops junky in last year's locker room, so it's not a huge surprise to see him here, along with others plagued by a similar affliction--hey look, it's Jerry Tarkanian!
"Just watching," Booth explains. "I love basketball."
Next: the fans. They look like people who have nothing better to do with their lives than join the Durango Hills YMCA day camp, Tark, Cal Booth and a bunch of tall guys in polo shirts carrying briefcases, who are presumably scouts. There are fans wearing the gear of the Nuggets, the Cavs, the Clippers, the Spurs, the Celtics, the Rockets, the Mavericks, the Sixers, the Blazers, the Warriors and so on. No Wizards fans make themselves immediately evident. They must be home enjoying the weather.
Then the game starts. Noted Republican and first-round Kings pick Spencer Hayes is trying to cover Ukrainian terror Oleksiy Pecherov aka OPEC. The coverage appears to be fairly ineffectual. And I thought the Right was supposed to be strong on defense. Pretty soon, the Durango Hills YMCA day campers start doing the wave, while the teams concentrate on the two great staples of Summer League ball: missed shots and fouls. Summer League permits 10 fouls, and the players seem anxious to take advantage of this rare deal: Pecherov acquires three before the first quarter ends.
A bit later, GW's Mike Hall and J.R. Pinnock hit back-to-back three pointers for the Wizards, the latter over Maryland's Nik Caner-Medley, who's playing for the Kings. It feels like the BB&T Classic; Gary Williams will probably ensure that this matchup never occurs again. Meanwhile, somewhere or other, GW fans are complaining about their coverage in The Post.
By the way, in case any Wizards fans do show up, you can buy gold Gilbert Arenas jerseys out in the lobby (home of the $3 gummi bears) for just $75. You can also buy a Zach Randolph Blazers jersey or a Ray Allen Sonics jersey, also for $75, despite the fact that neither player actually plays for those teams.
"The NBA said, 'Here they are, this is what they cost,' that's the end of the story," the woman selling the jerseys told me. I wanted a Jason Kapono Miami Heat jersey, but they appeared to be out of stock.
Before the end of the first quarter, the Kings' Pooh Jeter checks in. From his media notes: "Nickname 'Pooh' given to him by his grandmother Ethel White who said that he looked like a black pooh bear when he was born."
Doesn't get much better than that.
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