“You don’t gotta know why, you don’t gotta know how /
Just know I pick up bitches like Amir Johnson picks up fouls” — John Krolik
Three days removed from Vegas summer league and I’m still trying to recover.
I’ve got content that I’ll continue to roll out over the next few days, but for now, I wanted to try to wrap up one of my favorite weeks of the entire year. I’m not sure how that’s going to go and I’m hoping you’ll all bear with me as I navigate the slippery slope that is trying to recall a week of late nights around town and long days in the gym.
If the NBA Draft is my Christmas, then Las Vegas Summer League is my week-long birthday celebration. Rookies and D-League guys trying to show their stuff and earn their contracts while second year players who are eager to show the improvements to their game battle it out, trying to impress the collection of coaches, GM’s, agents and scouts in attendance.
People always say you can’t tell anything from summer league. I completely disagree. Sure, the outcome isn’t really that important — and I can promise you that the Raptors’ undefeated record holds no bearing on the regular season — but you get to see guys in action for the first time with their future teammates and coaches while having the pressure of media and hecklers and everything else that goes along with being a professional athlete that gets paid.
Watching Rodrigue Beaubois and Brandon Jennings face off last July was one of my favorite memories from my first summer league and this past week I made many more.
The second part of summer league that makes it so special is getting the chance to meet and spend time with so many of the people who help make this job one of the coolest in the world. Sure, we get to talk to the best athletes in the world at their respective sport, but we also have this built-in support system filled with emails, phone calls, instant messages, texts and blackberry messenger conversations with people we sometimes haven’t even met. A support-system that allows us to make it through a career path that isn’t really laid out for us.
Journalism is one thing. Or, it was one thing. Today, it’s a different world with different mediums for media and we’re all just trying to figure it out as we go. As a member of the new-school — starting online then moving to print afterward — I’ve gotten equal parts advice and support from beat writers, mainstream media and my fellow bloggers.
I wouldn’t be here without them and this is why summer league is so important to me. I get the chance to spend actual face-to-face time with these people “in real life” where we can take our stories about Jared Dudley and Rod Benson and Kevin Pritchard from G-chat conversation windows to bars without windows, but with many drinks.
And wow, did we take those conversations from the gym into the night. And early morning. And morning-morning.
Here are a few things I learned in Las Vegas:
No matter how intelligent of an idea it may seem at the time, if you find yourself without contact solution go to the gift shop in your hotel that will definitely be open 24 hours and buy some. Putting your contacts in the glasses on the desk with water will not end well. You will wake up in the morning with green contacts.
Those green contacts will not blind you. At least, I don’t think they will. I’m OK after braving one of them and using a friend’s disposable contact in my other eye.
John Krolik belongs on a reality TV show. Maybe one with DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems. Krolik can — and will, without hesitation — come up with a rap off of the top of his head involving any player/coach/GM you give him. Most of these are too explicit to write here, but a favorite line was, “They eaten up my **** like cashews / I’m getting paid like Wesley Matthews.”
Women lie. If they tell you they just turned 24 and it’s their birthday, add at least five years to that number. And, boys, trust your friends when they try to tell you as much. Bloggers won’t block you, they just want to look out for you.
Ending up in a Cabana at TAO Beach at 11 a.m. just to “say hello” to friends before a day of basketball is never as simple as it seems. You will not escape unscathed and the heat will make two drinks feel like six. Plan accordingly.
Of course John Wall will be sitting in his courtside seat for seven hours of summer league action. He’s got college teammates to cheer on and, yeah, he does love the game that much. And another interesting subplot for Wizards fans: The communication between assistant coach Sam Cassell and Wall is one to watch. Cassell, extremely vocal and involved, coaching the more reserved Wall is a relationship that will have the microscope on it when regular season begins.
Matt Moore would have been one hell of a camp counselor. Taking on the unofficial role of rounding everyone up at the end of the night to make sure they had food, water and sleep to be up and at it, writing in the morning, Moore is hysterically focused when he needs to shut down the party. He also forgets how to use anything other than nouns past 5 a.m.
Wauwatosa. Finally met Bucksketball as I fell in love with his team over the course of the week and made a promise to take a road trip to Milwaukee this season. Wauwatosa, where you at?
Finding out Kelly Dwyer has your back from the other side of the country is yet another reminder of how cool the blogosphere is. I am an internet nerd and I like it that way, thanks.
When you have the opportunity to eat poutine at 6 a.m., drink Monster energy drinks with Blazersedge until you feel like you’re going to float out of your chair, have chocolate-fudge cake for breakfast and take over the bar lounge, do it. And if you’re camping out in the hotel bar, do it big: Move the furniture around, kick your feet up, sprawl out and spend the next seven hours watching Jermaine O’Neal walk through with an entourage of beautiful ladies following, Chucky Atkins looking like a chill bro and John Krolik earning his spot on the next awful reality show for wannabe rappers.
Oh yeah: If you’re gambling, go big at that, too. Lose a mortgage payment. You’ll still be smiling the next day. At least, one party in our crew was.
In short, enjoy every second because just like Christmas and your birthday, summer league only comes around once a year and you can’t get that precious, glorious, spectacular week back. And this isn’t even mentioning the goodness that was basketball.
Whoever brought summer league to Vegas, bless your sweet, sweet soul.