2013 NBA Summer League Look-Back, Side A: Photographic Evidence of Wizards
You have ex-greats and other big-time front office personnel trying to glide around as unnoticed as possible in public. (Not very possible, especially now that most wear handy name badge lanyards.)
You have current NBA players, often in attendance to support their teammates and/or train with them. Or because there are in town as team union reps to congregate for league-wide meetings. Or because Vegas.
My previous ‘casual Summer League moment’ came in 2012 when I was part of the scrum interviewing Cassell and Kevin McHale suddenly popped out from what I previously thought was a broom closet. (Later discovery: it was a stairwell.) Actually, the 2012 casual moment was watching Rod Strickland walk down the aisle running the length court with a mustard-filled hot dog in tow… but then I wasn’t casual enough to sneak a picture.
This year, I’d have to nominate Flip Saunders watching games with shades resting atop of his head. Or maybe it was Craig Sager’s regular blouses. Or maybe it was when Martell Webster just came up and plugged his phone into my computer, leaving it there for a while to get a charge.
[Note: These are casual Las Vegas Summer League moments that are fit to pixel on this very website, i.e., those limited to the gyms.]
Part of the casualness of Summer League is… danger. Just bare with me.
Media seating is right there on the baseline, squeezed into three rows paralleling the width of the hardwood on each side of the court. Things are close, casually close. Closer than the usual first row of baseline fans at major arenas and only separated from the action by flimsy plastic tubing inside of a curtain. Unlike normal NBA games, there isn’t a row of cameramen/women seated on the baseline acting as a buffer of sorts. In Las Vegas, there were usually two to three baseline photographers/camera operators total for each game, four or five at most—myself included on several occasions.
It may be Summer League basketball, but the size and athletic ability still qualify as some of the best in the world. And in the environment of the Cox Pavilion, an auxiliary gym to the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV that’s like a high school gym in most respects, these guys really fly around the court like frantic fleas on the last dog alive. Because, well, it’s Summer League basketball. Everyone is in go-hard mode to make an impression on those in attendance with team-building input, some of whom are European scouts sitting draped in their indoor fashion scarves, sweat-smelling close to the action alongside the media. And with 10 fouls per man in Vegas, before tournament play, every single player is trying to block every single shot in the paint.
Things on the baseline, and on media row, can get dangerous—the baseline has a much greater potential for crashes than sideline seating. In 2010, the courtside computer of Joe Glorioso of Hoop District got absolutely destroyed by an errant player. Luckily for Joe, he wasn’t in his seat at the time. In 2012, Nolan Smith of the Trail Blazers went crashing into the basket stanchion, stumbled toward the baseline, and eventually fell at the foot of the media table. He had to be taken off the court on a stretcher; took an elbow to the head and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
This year, I almost got taken out by Luke Harangody and Jan Vesely, on separate occasions. Chris Singleton once went flying past and over a guy sitting in sideline seats—players going all-out to save a ball is always a threat. So yea, courtside at Summer League is a little dangerous, but taking photos on the baseline sure is a lot of fun, and the whole dangerousness adds a little quaintness to the closeness (I think).
Otherwise, I hope you enjoy this series of photos that I took out in Las Vegas this summer, some shot with iPhone (and Instagram’d), but most shot with a Canon Digital Rebel XSi. Some of these were posted in this gallery on ESPN TrueHoop, some appeared in this previous TAI post, and the full set of photos from this past Summer League as well as the 2010 Summer League (camera was in the shop during the 2012 LVSL) can be found here on Flickr.
Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely
before the first Summer League game.
Jan Vesely coming at you.
Sam Cassell and John Wall … always coaching.
Staring down an Andrew Lawrence jumper.
Jan Vesely, watch for the hook.
Glen Rice, Jr. Dunk.
The Vesely Pretzel.
Bradley Beal, wanting to be on the basketball court so bad… you must wonder how much not being able to do much this summer has stunted his development.
Chris Singleton vs. Matt Howard
C-Sing attacks the rim.
Marquez Haynes, tight D.
Otto Porter runner.
Out of Bounds.
Jermaine Taylor (former Wizards draft pick)
Dexter Pittman. Period.
Jae Crowder gets his Karl Malone pose on.
Chris Smith of the Knicks.
CJ McCollum scoop shot.
Summer League M.V.P. Jonas Valaciunas with the hook shot.
Dwight Buycks rises up.
The Flying Luke Harangodys, at least one of them.
The Triangle Defense.
Quincy Acy taking charge.
Darius Johnson-Odom interior passing.
Dennis Schröder jump-pass.
Grandma-Ma with legit grandpa gray hairs.
Mitch Richmond: #NeverForget… his Ed Hardy-style summer league t-shirt.
Harrison Barnes and Chris Mullin make a connection.
Mitch Kupchak, Mike D’Antoni, and a lurking Kurt Rambis…
The Lakers Brain Trust.
Kobe Bryant impersonator, avec fannie pack,
on the Las Vegas Strip.
Rick Adelman with a coolin’ Flip Saunders,
and Calvin Booth in the foreground,
lady sleeping chin on the fist in the background.
Ernie Grunfeld and Isiah Thomas share some yuks
(perhaps about the Knicks)…
Phone check with Prêt-à-Porter All-White Party Zydrunas Ilgauskas,
wearing white dress shirt and light-colored cargo shorts.
Caron Butler gets his Malcolm X on,
Steve Blake tries to mind-f*ck a leather basketball, I’m assuming,
Marcus Camby? Antonio Davis!
Sam Cassell and SCALABRINE!! [Doc Rivers voice.]
(Also, Mark Jackson cameo.)
Bradley Beal phone check,
with John Wall & Martell Webster in background.
Summer League fisheye, shooting 2.
[photos credit/copyright: Kyle Weidie, Truth About It.net]