There is no escaping it. Summer is in full swing. The sun beats down relentlessly. Old sweaty men and old sweaty women are busting out their tank tops and tiny shorts. Basketball season is a distant memory, and football season looms just out of reach. Somewhere in Mississippi, Brett Favre sits hesitantly atop a rusty tractor, having come to a fork in a dirt road. There are no Summer Olympics to enjoy this year, no World Cup, and no other noteworthy international competitions. My apologies to fans of the national pastime, but baseball just doesn’t do it for me; at least not regular season baseball. The current sports landscape is a boring, barren wasteland.
But just when you feel like a lost, starving wanderer in a scorching sports desert, you stumble across an oasis: The NBA Summer League. Now I know what you’re thinking.
"Seriously? The Summer League? Are you joking? Does anybody really care? Did you know you can rearrange the letters of 'The NBA Summer League' to spell 'The(e) Urban Measle Gum'?"
If nothing else, a few basketball games in the middle of the long, hot off season should help bridge the gap from June to September. But just in case that isn’t reason enough to invest a little time and attention, here are a few more reasons (In no particular order):
1. Firstly (and obviously) the Summer League is a great opportunity to see many of next year's top rookies in action. Anytime you can see Blake Griffin, James Harden, Hasheem Thabeet, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry, and Taylor Rochestie all play in one place, it's worth checking out. Why Rochestie? Because if I squint, he kind of looks like me.
2. Anything that takes place in an air conditioned gym when it’s well over 100 degrees outside is worth supporting.
3. There are literally millions of dollars on the line. Blake Griffin doesn't need to play his way onto a roster, but there are dozens of players hoping to do just that. Including the strikingly handsome Taylor Rochestie.
4. 55 games in 10 days. That's like 9 games a day! The entire package is available online for only 15 dollars. That's like 12 cents a game! All right, that math is a little off, but you get the idea.
5. Where else can you get overtime and buzzer beaters in July?
6. You will get to enjoy freakishly athletic, yet fundamentally impaired players who are good for at least one ridiculous dunk and one missed layup per game. In addition, they'll shoot about 40% from the free throw line. (I'm looking at you, Deron Washington)
7. It takes 10 fouls to foul out. However, some slow lanky center will still manage to foul out in just 23 minutes.
8. We finally get to see Ricky Rubio play. I keep hearing how special this kid is and . . . oh, wait. Nevermind.
9. Nothing compares to Adam Morrison's facial hair. It looks even better in action than on the sideline.
10. The officiating is terrible. I mean really, really terrible. At least the rookies can get a head start on adjusting. Seriously, did they pick people from the stands to officiate?
11. Here you can learn the impressive or important sounding nicknames of guys who either have yet to play a minute in the NBA, or who have had generally unremarkable pro careers. Examples: The Aviator, Air Georgia, Wink, Smush, etc.
12. There is just something about the intimacy of the venue. It allows you to hear the coaches yelling, the shoes squeaking, and the fans heckling Brandon Jennings. Furthermore, you can almost hear Jennings struggling with the decision to respond or pretend he didn't hear.
13. It is thoroughly enjoyable watching college players who are used to getting every call, as they realize they have to learn to play by the same rules as everyone else.
14. After watching games on your grainy, 14 inch laptop screen, you really appreciate your HD Flat.
15. It may be your last chance to see your favorite undersized college player in action. Unless you get the National Korean Basketball League Playoffs on your aforementioned HD flat.
16. If we're lucky, Chase Budinger will grow a beard. If he does, we can call him the Flying Lumberjack. But my wife will still call him "Big Blond Crybaby." Her words, not mine.
17. Do you really have anything better to do? I mean honestly, what's so important? Your kid's birthday? Your mom's birthday? They'll understand. But DeJuan Blair will never forgive you if you miss his summer league debut. It's a big moment in a young man's life.
The NBA Summer League is a unique spectacle in the world of sports. It's like a whole season of minor league baseball packed into a week and a half. It's like a college basketball All Star game, combined with a showcase of young international players, with a few overweight big men tossed into the mix. There is truly something for everyone, even the ladies (Rochestie). Sports fans, do yourself a favor. Make a little time, and check out a few NBA Summer League games. As long as you aren't looking for competitive, well played, professional basketball games, you won't be disappointed.