I'm back in Boston after a week in Vegas that spanned the end of Summer League, the beginning of USA Basketball's mini-camp, and the decimation of my bank account at the blackjack tables.
Let's start with the most important lesson of the week. When a dealer draws a 2, get ready to get your nuts ripped off. It happens every time. Bet as little as possible. Don't double, don't split, don't get greedy. There is nothing quite like drawing a 11… doubling… getting a 9… and then watching the dealer flip an 8 on her 2, then draw a 6 and 5.
But even though I got Kobe'd at the tables by more than a few dealer 2's, there was always basketball to look forward to.
Summer League was great for learning about some of the up-and-comers. But I just loved walking into that Team USA camp. Some of the game's best all corralled in one spot, putting egos aside (or not, perhaps, in some cases) and trying to work together.
So its interesting to get to talk to a few of these guys. I'd love to say I came up with the best questions in the house and they got the players to open up and share deep, real, thoughts on what's coming down the road. But the truth is I spent most of the time just soaking it all in and jamming a camera and microphone in people's faces.
But you still get a chance to get a read on some people… which is cool.
Stephen Curry really just seems to be like a wide-eyed kid out there. He's really likeable though. I'd say he and Kevin Durant are at the top of that likability list.
You've seen 2 interviews with Rondo by now and you can tell he's not one to play along with the interviewer if he thinks the interviewer is a bit of a dipshit. And let me tell you, he thought that about me… and he was right. But at the end of the last interview, you can see almost him crack a smile at my lame question because I was laughing at his lame response. It's almost a "Ok, Rondo… I caught you, and you caught me… next time we can really talk" kinda thing. He'll give as much as you do.
Kevin Durant is the man. The dude just gets it on every level. Listening to him speak and watching how he carries himself makes me smile. The league will do well in his hands… and David Stern should immediately take it from LeBron and put a big, fat spotlight on KD if he knows what's good for him. Sorry LeBron… you screwed the proverbial pooch this summer. A lot of people hate you now. The Durantula is immensely un-hateable… and he's pretty ok at filling the ol' peach basket.
Most of the other guys were just giving standard answers to standard questions. It was interesting to see guys who would take charge… like Rondo… and explain things to other guys while some guys would just listen.
To me, the most interesting part of it all is that when you get there… and you talk to everyone… you realize these are just guys playing basketball. The famous faces you see on TV almost morph into barely familiar features on guys who are just playing the same game most of us love to play. The difference is they are abnormally good at it. But in most other ways… they're just regular guys having fun. You can see it in the stretching out when guys are cracking each other up over the monotony of the warmups.
Very interesting stuff. I'm done with the Vegas portion of this but That Sports Babe is working on a few things so we're hoping to provide more for you. We're also working on future Team USA coverage. Stay tuned for that.
And as always, thanks for keeping up with it. And stop snickering at the picture because its of Gay and Love. What are you… 13?
And yes, I know Russell Westbrook's name has 2 "L's". I screwed it up and am too lazy to fix it.
Oh… as for why this was the epicenter of the basketball universe. Team USA, Summer League, and a massive AAU tournament were all going on at almost the same time. Hoops at all levels in one place. Works for me.