By Andrew Gilstrap
It has been a couple of weeks since LeBron and the Miami Heat disposed of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. Other than the frenzy of trade talks and free agent signings, there is a fair amount of basketball action to hold over die hard fans like myself until the season begins in October. I know the MLB All Star Game was earlier this evening, but some under-the-radar NBA action has started within the past couple of days, and there’s hardly a break in the action until early-to-mid-August.
As I am writing this, the Summer League play in Orlando is about halfway over: Five days of scrimmages between rookies and other young players from 8 NBA Teams. The teams have been squaring off in the recently built Amway Center practice court in games that run a little less than two hours. Unless you have NBA TV or have been streaming the games online, you probably have missed out on this action. The play-by-play announcers have been raving about how nice the practice facility is, but it’s hard to take it all in on TV with how intimate the setting is. There is only sideline seating at these games, no bleachers, and the main camera is nearly eye level with the players. The games are built for scouts and general managers, but NBA TV has you covered for every game too. The Orlando Pro Summer League games conclude on June 13.
The Orlando games basically serve as a primer for the 2012 Summer League in Las Vegas, which features 24 teams playing in games from June 13-22 (60 games in total). The Las Vegas showcase will likely offer glimpses of this year’s top draft picks such as Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes, etc. The games are split between two arenas in Vegas, both of which are more fan friendly than the Orlando venue. NBA TV has rights to all 60 games.
Don’t forget that we also have Team USA Basketball in the 2012 Summer Olympics Game in London. Team USA’s first game (vs. France) is on July 29. If you’re sweating the fact Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh are sitting out this year, just remember that the team still has LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. (Not to mention the it will also have Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.) No shortage of star power there. I hope our USA reps can cap off this packed summer of basketball by bringing home a gold medal from London in mid-August. Watch this commercial below for a little USA Basketball inspiration (from YouTube user thejeepchannel, featuring music and narration from actor/Hip Hop artist Common):