The good news is fans got to see some of the best NBA players in action last night. The bad news is they will have to wait to see any more.
Rudy Gay and a gaggle of his friends put on a high-scoring show for the 5,000 or so fans at the DeSoto Civic Center. The game was filled with superstars including Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Tyreke Evans, but also with quick three-pointers, a lot of dunks and an overall defensive malaise.
“This was cool but it’s just cheese really,” said Angie Pogue, a 23-year-old Grizzlies fan. “I’m just sad there’s not a basketball season.”
‘Cheese’ is the right word. The game looked more like a cross between a three-point and dunk contest, while the lack of professionalism in presentation was a constant reminder of the fact that this event was not, in fact, a substitute NBA game.
Scheduled to start at 7:30, the game actually tipped off at the casual time of 8:22. Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo, both scheduled to play and listed on final rosters, did not show up. Allen was even introduced over the PA despite not being in the arena.
Hick-ups like these were plentiful, but the game itself was a showcase. Fans in the lower bowl were clearly enthralled with how close they were to titans like James, and more than one brave young fan managed creep to the bench and leave with an autograph and dinner plate sized eyes.
The game itself was dunks and threes and a few jumpers from Penny Hardaway. Gay’s white team fell to Jame’s blue team 151 – 158. Gay finished with 44 points and LeBron put up 43.
Two surprising stars of the game however, were former Grizzly Lester Hudson and future (or current?) Grizzly Josh Selby. Both came out with something to prove, and made and impression, finishing with 32 and 35 points respectively.
Notes and Observations
The Dunk List
Said it before, the game was dunks and three-pointers. And with so many opportunities to get to the rim, some of the players got creative. A few of the favorites:
3) Rudy Gay’s under-the-hoop 360 “what?”
In the second quarter, as dunks were getting flashier and flashier, Rudy got in on the action with a one handed 360 dunk under the rim. Funny thing though, he was behind the curve at that point. After the dunk Jarret Jack looked at Rudy like “that all you got?” and Rudy was forced to throw up an “I don’t know man” shoulder shrug.
2) Any of Terrico White’s 360 oop slams
He had at least one of these in every quarter, plus at least 7 other slams in the game. The man was jumping out of the building. His last slam game at the buzzer – a full 360 with the ball behind his head.
1) LeBron’s self-assist backboard jam.
Yeah this was total dunk contest, but it was done at game speed. James drove from the top, threw the ball at the backboard, jumped, caught the bounce and jammed it home.
Without replay in the DCC, the sportswriters all kind of turned to each other to make sure we had just seen what happened. Yup. Pretty cool.
More Talent in the family
Rudy Gay’s sister, Brett Gay, belted the national anthem as well as anyone we’ve heard at FedExForum (not including Al Green). “You can check her out on iTunes” we were told. Might be a good idea. She’s also on twitter @brettgaymusic
Penny Hardaway had a busy day yesterday, dedicating courts in Cordova and then coming down to Southhaven for Rudy’s game. Crowd sure was happy to see him though.
He’s definitely lost a step or twelve, but managed to earn 8 points off a few jump shots. The last one came with 30 seconds left, with the crowd chanting “PEN-NY! PEN-NY” so they could see him sink a bucket one last time.
Despite finishing with the most points, Rudy was not on his a-game in this one. He missed several dunks, showed poor timing on several passes and lost the handle on drives more than a few times.
Rudy wore a pad over his recently healed shoulder, but said the injury was not the problem for him in the game.
“I’m kind of rusty,” he said. “I need these games to get back into basketball shape.”
Rudy Gay’s charity organization, Flight 22, was the benefactor of the event. Rudy described the organization’s mission as “helping kids of middle-school age with their education.”
Doug Gillon covers the Grizzlies for MemphiSport. Follow him on twitter @douggillon.
All photos by JD Meredith.