I’m about to leave the gorgeous, air-conditioned, shining oasis in the midst of the desert that is the Las Vegas Summer League, so this is going to have to be my 2nd/final live dispatch. A few things one might have missed if one is only able to watch the game on the teevee machine.
One, there are a ton of kiddie acts that occur during timeouts. And with up to eight games in a day, those contests get recycled over and over again. At this point, I think I can handicap ‘em startling accuracy, the make-the-tiny-children-wear-oversize-shoes-and-and-clothing-while-racing-up-and-down-court-to-attempt-layups bit, the tricycle races, and the tiny dunk contests.
The loudest moments during a game occur when the arena’s hype man comes out asking for noise in return for non-cannon launched t-shirts and “commemorative souvenir balls (not available in stores). Also, the musical selection played during games includes quite the playlist: Bust a Move, Henley’s the Boys of Summer, Getting Jiggy Wit It (at least 5-6 times) Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5, YMCA, Michael Jackson’s Bad TNT by AC/DC, I’m the furthest thing from a rock/hip-hop aficionado, (and it’s entirely possible that easy listening/non-threating hitz is a pro-forma thing in sporting arenas, but it was pretty eye-roll inducing.
Also, if you’re a fan of seeing long-lost throwbacks, the kind that you buy and then stich in the back of your closet because said player’s been traded or isn’t any good, the Summer League’s the place to be. So far I’ve spied a Tracy McGrady Raptors uni, that odd half purple/half black Sacto Kings number featuring Peja Stojakovic, a Landry Fields in Knickerbocker blue, a Sean Rooks (really) customized Clipper shirt, a Portland Trailblazers jersey with “Inman” across the back. I presume it’s meant to commemorate the GM reign (1981-86) of Stu Inman (or else there’s just a guy named Inman who likes the Blazers).
In a related story, I’m definitely purchasing a Steve Novak model when it’s thrown into the bargain bin at Modell’s. I’d fit in like a well-dressed pea in a pod ‘round these parts. Of course, nothing could top Laker Sparrow. Let me explain. Laker Sparrow (he wouldn’t give his real name) has been attending the Vegas Summer League for the past 11 seasons. He’s a die-hard Laker fan (as you might guess) and stated that this is not his full outfit. Normally there’s a purple and yellow wig and some additional pirate gear involved but it’s just too darned hot this year so he went with the basic ensemble, pictured below.
Yes, he does eerily resemble Jack Sparrow. And yes, he did make up a customized Rum Bottle Icon in lieu of a number in case anyone was confused as to who “Sparrow” was meant to indicate. Actually, when I first spied him at the Dippin’ Dots stand, I thought, “Gee a Rory Sparrow throwback. Kewl!”
On to the game!
A loss, a very palpable loss. I’m not sure how this affects the so-called playoff tournament that’s about to commence, but try not to rend your garments asunder, Knick-o-philes. For one, this is just an extended audition—a hoop-centric, longer-running version of A Chorus Line, and the title probably will be something along the lines of the chapeau the Oklahomans received for their crown in Orlando. This’n
Plus, the SummerCats are downright stacked. They’ve got at least four rotation regulars getting serious burn – Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo, last year’s 2nd overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and one of the tourney’s breakout stars (And yes, it’s always good to recall that the likes of Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Anthony Randolph put up some monster numbers in seasons past), Jeffrey Taylor.
Taylor’s outplaying MKG by a large margin so far, showing off a very smooth jumper and an explosive first step. He’s well on his way to being a very credible two-way 3-and-D wing. Zeller, though he really never should wear a t-shirted jersey when playing pro ball ever again, also has impressed. For the most part, he was just too durned fast for the likes of Liam McMorrow and Jerome Jordan and too big for Eloy Vargas (a Philip K. Dick character if ever there was one) or Terrence Jennings (I still think that’s a made up name. It sounds like one of the characters in Blue Chips, possibly one of the pre-scandal Western U. ballers who threw games with Tony.)
It was a generally sloppy affair, even for SL action. In games like this the degree of difficulty for sussing out any one player’s individual merits increases geometrically, but here’s a few tidbits on the cats (see what I did there?) we can expect to see in Westchester in a few months
Unfortunately he pulled a hamstring early on and as one might expect, didn’t return in the second half. He was jumping/stretching frantically or a good 4-5 minutes on the bench, clearly hoping to return, but Roger Hinds (who is here) literally sat him down.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
As we thought, he didn’t play.
He was taking quite a few long-range jumpers and creating off the dribble. The shots didn’t fall but he did feed mates with a deft pass or two, most of which weren’t converted. When he took the ball to the hole, he had quite a bit of success, but still, CJ Leslie handling the ball 20 feet from the hoop as a proto-Point Forward–nifty first step notwithstanding–isn’t going to be something one sees at MSG. It smacks of one of those “Let’s work on a deficiency in a game/setting in which it doesn’t matter”-type things. Cool, then.
Friend-of-the-blog Charles Osborn called him a “taller Toney Douglas” on the Twitter. I have to say, that’s not a criticism. Toney seems to be a better shooter at this point in their careers, even if we haven’t seen many spot-up attempts for Touré. He’s a similar defender, especially in terms of his ability to harass ballhandlers and sneak into passing lanes.
More importantly, he is definitely coming to camp and he insisted that his name does include the accent. I’ve seen it both with and without in official scoresheets and whatnot. Why it’s been dropped, he doesn’t know, but in the comments, hit Option-E, then the E key so you spell his name correctly. You can save those, “The Knicks traded Murry’s apostrophe to Amar’e for a future 1st round draft pick” jokes for parties.
Of course it wouldn’t be the Knicks without some boffo injury knews. J.R. Smith’s going to be out for 12-16 weeks with what the team is calling, “patella tendon surgery and arthroscopy for a tear in the lateral meniscus. The injuries were chronic and gradually worsened.” That means he’ll be back either mid-camp in October or a few weeks into the start of the regular season. Well, fun.
The glass-half full response to this is that it’d explain why J.R.’s game fell off a cliff in the playoffs. The half empty glass, filled with befouled, brackish water would surmise that the Knicks just gave a four-year deal to a feller with “chronic and gradually worsening” knee joints who has undergone two surgical procedures since the end of the season.
Oh well. Metta’s here and the SummerPlayoffs approacheth. Go Knicks!