Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Pepsi Pro Summer League: The Premature Ejaculation of the Summer Leagues

As the shortest of the four major summer leagues (along with Vegas, Southern California and Rocky Mountain Revue), the Pepsi Pro Summer League has a bit of a premature ejaculatory feeling to it. Like all the fans are just starting to get into it when they collectively say “Wait, that’s it?”

None the less, there is some legitimate basketball talent here. Adam Morrison came to play, as did Marcus Williams (and do NOT come pissing to me about those links going to team stats and not individual stats; this is a problem with the Pepsi Pro that I’ll get to in a minute). Both first round picks came to play, as evidenced by Morrison’s 24.6 points a game and Williams’ 8 assists per game.

(Honestly, that last number is pretty impressive. I can’t wait to see this kid come off the bench for Kidd. Just by giving them a more than competent back-up point guard, he could dramatically improve this team: Kidd’s fresh for the whole year, and even when he doesn’t play the drop off isn’t astronomical. Of course like the Vegas league, these numbers don’t mean anything. Still, I’m excited.)

Before getting into my criticisms, here are a few observations:

  • The Heat played almost all rookies. Of the 15 guys on the roster, 11 were rookies. One of the “veterans” had 2 years experience, but came straight from high school, making him the youngest player on the team. I guess it’s hard to get the motivation to play in July when you’re still drunk off last month’s championship.
  • The Pacers’ team featured Damone Brown from Syracuse and Taylor Coppenrath from Vermont… leading me to hope briefly that they had played against each other in the 2005 NCAA game in which Vermont upset Syracuse, the Big East Champs that year. Alas, Brown graduated in 2001. I bet that would have been an awkward introduction. “Don’t we know each other…?”
  • James Augustine’s Summer League Blog is surprisingly endearing. It doesn’t have the literary or self-indulgent flair of Paul Shirley’s, but it reads like a letter home from camp. Worth checking out.

Now back to the overanalysis.

The big problem here is that the whole league is over so damn fast. Six teams with five games each in five days, that’s it. Don’t get a sandwich during a game, you’ll come back and the whole league will be gone. Poof! If you want to work at Borders Books, you’re orientation is longer than that. Legitimately. I have it on good information that Borders training takes 10 days. I’m not arguing that one should be longer than the other, but what kind of league consumes less time than cashier training?

The whole thing is anticlimactic. There are no money shots, no chances to really appreciate the total experience because there is no total experience. The first and second team listings feel rushed and without excitement. There’s no champion. There’s no MVP. The games are only 40 minutes. And the stats sheets for each team scream half-assed. There wasn’t even enough time or effort to create a simple statistics page for each player. Over too soon and no one seemed to care while it was going on. Good combination for a summer league, fellas.

The Pepsi Pro is a fine establishment, and I like the idea of having some NBA caliber guys playing in a more informal environment, but let’s ditch the pretension. It’s not a league. It’s a camp. The Magic (who organize the event) should play that up. They look a little stupid trying to put a half assed league together while never taking the time and effort for a money shot.


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