Seen, Heard, and Experienced In Las Vegas and Other Wizards NBA Summer League Bullets | Truth About It.net

Seen, Heard, and Experienced In Las Vegas and Other Wizards NBA Summer League Bullets

By
Updated: July 25, 2012

John Wall’s summer league feet game.

Things I learned/witnessed at summer league in Las Vegas, in bullets:

  • On Day 1, Chris Webber, an analyst for the games on NBA TV, broke out his pleated cargo shorts. It was a tough day for all of us.
  • Bradley Beal can block shots… he averaged one per game over five contests in Las Vegas. Chris Singleton also threw his body around a bunch (“I feel like it’s going to help Chris Singleton out a lot,” said Shelvin Mack about the summer league 10-foul limit during Wizards mini-camp prior. “You know, he likes to foul, so he’s going to play a lot longer, so it’s good for us.”). This clip shows Beal blocking, or rather, thwarting a lob attempt off the backboard, and then Singleton diving over the first row of chairs for the loose ball:
  • Aside from his stuntman routine, Singleton proved to be more confident with the ball (even if he sometimes tried to do too much with it) and was overall more vocal on defense. But his jump shot showed regression. Singleton faded backwards on almost all of his jumper attempts (and some came with a hitch).
  • Singleton did, however, sport a t-shirt that said, “It is what it is,” before the Wizards’ third game.
  • Summer League refs are summer-league refs.
  • And sometimes the ref can get in the way of a Jan Vesely dunk, but it need not be just a summer league ref for this to happen.
  • Sometimes you’ll be interviewing Sam Cassell and Kevin McHale will suddenly pop out of a door right next to Cassell that you thought was a broom closet.
  • Speaking of Cassell, Ted Leonsis and the Wizards should change the rules about access to assistant coaches. Currently, access is only granted to the head coach, with a few exceptions (such as when Cassell coaches the summer league or Don Zierden in association with the Comcast television broadcast).
  • The summer league serves as an annual hub for NBA cross-discipline networking, right there with All-Star game and likely more so than the NBA Finals or the draft. A record 24 teams were represented in Las Vegas this summer. Combine all the team personnel with veteran players out there training (and in support of the youngsters) along with agents, and you have one strange brew that’s fueled by the pepperoni pizza from Thomas & Mack Center/Cox Pavilion food stand — the unofficial media sustenance for long days in the gym.
  • In general, during summer league, there are a lot of tall, creaky dudes prowling around Vegas.
  • Also, yes, the summer league has groupies. They actually fly out to Vegas from locations far away. At least this is what league insiders tell me.
  • Sometimes I wish people wore their Twitter accounts on name tags… or at least that holograms of Twitter handles floated above everyone’s head.
  • Every time George Karl walked by my baseline position on media row, I was tempted to whisper, “JaVaaaaale.” I never did.
  • Speaking of, Pam McGee and the little guy she’s always with were sighted courtside for a Nuggets summer league game before the Wizards faced the Grizzlies, but JaVale McGee didn’t seem to be in attendance.
  • The Logo, Jerry West, is as pristine as ever. Out of all the old-timers toting around, he seemed the most crisp. I’m not sure what this means, you had to be there.
  • Gregg Popovich considers a yellow shirt to be the perfect accompaniment to a grizzled beard on a Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.
  • Craziest blackjack hand I’ve ever seen (and it came via a player who has worn a Wizards uniform before… no, I won’t tell who): the player was dealt two aces, so he split them. He was dealt a third ace, which was of course split. His next three cards: king, ten, queen. Triple twenty-one. There is, however, a catch. I can’t exactly remember how it happened — I think 5-2-2-2-10 — but the dealer also hit himself into 21. Push.
  • Biggest Regret: Rod Strickland was walking around with a half-eaten hot dog in his hand, and I failed to take a picture — partially because I couldn’t get my camera ready, partially because I was sitting next to (and talking with) someone Strickland knew and it would’ve been rude. Side note: the person who knew Strickland called out to say ‘What’s up.’ Rod then suddenly pretended to be on his phone, but then realized he knew the person and stopped to say hello.
  • Second Biggest Regret: Not interviewing Jordan Crawford, who was in attendance for the Wizards’ second summer league game against the Houston Rockets. And yes, Crawford was wearing shades inside the gym.
  • Sometimes a random guy calling himself a scout from Israel will come up to you and say that he never wishes to see Jeremy Pargo in Israel again because he was so hard to plan for; the scout was looking over my shoulder and watching the splendid play of Pargo’s featured at the top of this TAI post when he said this.
  • Always watch out for Josh Selby, who dropped 35 points on the Wizards and was named Co-MVP of the 2012 Summer League. In the below video, undrafted rookie LaRon Dendy gets a block for the Wizards, but unfortunately Earl Calloway then turns the ball over and Selby provides the last-second heroics.
  • Sometimes you have the Palms Casino McDonald’s lunch/dinner menu for breakfast, and sometimes you have the breakfast menu for dinner. It’s a process and it’s situational.
  • Staying at the Palms… it was decent. However, I constantly felt like I was the only person using the elevators, and I persistently saw the same “working gals” prowling around the center bar — it certainly felt like the Sacramento Kings of Las Vegas hotels, although I’m not exactly a Vegas hotel connoisseur. But, if I had to hypothesize, Circus-Circus would be the Washington Wizards of Vegas hotels, at least the Wizards of the past couple of years.
  • Fact: I blew more money on Vegas cabs than I did gambling. Note: I’m not a big gambler, but I will throw down money on random sports futures.
  • When in Vegas, always find time to visit old Vegas (the people-watching is supreme), but especially if a friend is in a transitional period in life and is working the graveyard 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. shift at the main bar in Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel.
  • Between the air and the air conditioning, the dryness in the desert can be a killer. Never have I more enjoyed a ride home from the airport in a cab with the windows down on a humid, 76-degree overcast morning in D.C.
  • We can’t go without a Shavlik Randolph highlight… After all, he was named MVP of the Wizards’ fourth game against the Memphis Grizzlies with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Here’s Randolph making a post move against Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders, followed by some crazy move by Tobias Harris (of the Bucks) that I can’t figure out if it’s legal or not:
  • Is Jan Vesely more a 3? Or is he more a 5? The latter seems more likely than the former at this point, but we don’t exactly know what we learned in Vegas in this regard. There are plays, however, set up for Vesely to pass out of the post, such as this out-of-bounds play where Vesely gets the assist on a Calloway jumper:
  • There’s no guarantee that the newly acquired Trevor Ariza or Emeka Okafor will start for the Wizards, but… If I were betting on such, it’s probably more likely that Chris Singleton comes off the bench in favor of Ariza’s veteran brand of offense; I’d also bet that Jordan Crawford starts the season at the 2. What’s less certain is who will hold down Washington’s 4 and 5 spots. Bet on Nene starting. However, given that he played so well with Kevin Seraphin — defensively and unselfishly on offense — would it be outlandish to consider a starting lineup of Nene at the 4 and Seraphin at the 5? (The 4 and 5 can be interchangeable parts, so labels are less relevant.) Then again, with Okafor slated to make $13.5 million next season (evidently making him the highest-paid pro athlete in D.C.), schlock-jocks might make mountains out of mole-hills if he does not start. We’ll see if that matters to the team. Training camp is more than a couple months away.
  • The experience of a flight to Vegas is predictably the antithesis of a flight out of Vegas. Departing from Washington, I took the Thursday 9 p.m. direct redeye out of DCA, had a couple scotches to start, and then spent the rest of the flight either dozing off to the anticipatory Sin City chatter or listening to my iPod. We arrived to Las Vegas 30 minutes early, sat on the tarmac until a gate was open, de-boarded relatively on time, and before I knew it, at around 4 a.m. East Coast time, I was safe and sound in a bed at a friend’s house, ready for the Wizards summer league opener at 1 p.m. (EDT) that day. Friday the 13th. No biggie.
  • Back to D.C., a week later… With no consistent sleep pattern whatsoever and having spent hours in a basketball gym followed by sporadic Vegas nights, I didn’t stay up too late on the Wednesday night before an 11:45 a.m. return flight on Thursday morning — only until about 2 a.m. with a cautioned buzz as I met up with some other basketball writers/bloggers one last time. So, unlike when I was out in Vegas to cover the summer league in 2010, I was fully on track to make my flight. This year’s catch: the zipper on my check-on luggage broke on the way to the airport. Further and further the teeth came apart, and by the time I arrived at the ticket counter, I was desperate for tape. The disinterested counter ladies fought off their own eye-rolls and shoulder shrugs to find a roll of packing tape, which was promptly used in its entirety, in front of all the impatient gawkers in line that I tuned out — using the tape also made lots and lots of noise. After a moderate delay out of Vegas, I arrived in Atlanta where I expected to spend around two hours of my life enjoying a couple beers and the sweet, sweet taste of Arby’s. Instead: while having beer(s), I missed Arby’s before it closed, boarded my flight without eating, and spent over an hour and a half in the plane on the tarmac waiting for the “ground hold” to end before ultimately being told that the flight could not leave because the runway at Reagan National would soon be closing, no exceptions. From there it was determined that my flight back to D.C. would be at 6:45 a.m. — about 12 hours after it was supposed to happen — and that I would get the honor of spending the night in the airport. So I watched a replay of the first half of the basketball exhibition game between the U.S. and Great Britain, zombied between the gates at the relatively empty Hartsfield-Jackson airport, stumbled across the only non-vending machine place open at 2 a.m., Qudoba, inhaled a chicken quesadilla/chips and queso, and made it back to a row of seats relatively close to my gate for what would incorrectly be referred to as sleep. I did lose consciousness, but only to wake up and find some old man in a suit (not a business suit, a creepy suit) in proximity too close for comfort, especially with so much room in the cavernous airport. So I stayed zoned out and relatively awake for the next couple of hours before boarding time. I made it back to D.C. on Friday morning with my life — things can alway be worse, ya know, Flip Saunders? — and received luggage with tape relatively in tact, but tape not in all the right places. Things of mine that fell out of my broken suitcase continue to be at-large. But what’s life without a bit of purging?
  • Vegas, baby.


Sam Cassell coaches up Chris Singleton…

{bonus Bradley Beal/Shelvin Mack videos below…}

Bonus Summer League Videos:

The NBA Summer League crew had an interview of Bradley Beal, where you’ll find out:

  • Favorite movie: He Got Game
  • T.V. show he’d be stuck on: Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  • Favorite restaurant: T.G.I. Friday’s
  • That Beal appears appears to sign a gold version Caron Butler jersey, but he’s also No. 3, so there’s that.

The Summer League crew did the same thing with Shelvin Mack:

  • If he had to pick one thing to eat all the time: chicken wings
  • Favorite T.V. show growing up: Hey Arnold!
  • What NBA player would be the NFL best defensive end? Trevor Booker
  • Greatest movie of all time: American Gangster

A Bradley Beal (and Shelvin Mack) Compilation Video via Sholape Oriola: