I saw the Suns play their first game of Vegas Summer League last night. I also saw the return of a familiar name. Familiar in the way that deja vu or Lady Gaga is. (I mean really, isn’t she just a cheap Madonna knock off?)
The name is Dwayne Collins and if it doesn’t ring a bell right away, give it a few seconds. You’ll probably get that feeling that you’ve heard it before, but just can’t place where.
That’s because he was the 60th and final pick in the 2010 NBA Draft also known as “Mr. Irrelevant.” A nickname that Collins embraced by having it tattooed on his hand. It also meant his journey in professional basketball would be about as easy as trying to figure out how Jay Z is qualified to be an agent.
Collins went through the 2010 preseason with the team and then disappeared from the fans’ and NBA consciousness about as fast as he had arrived. Since then he has spent time playing in Europe. That is until Friday when he returned to the franchise that drafted him, almost as inconspicuously as he had left it. It was so quietly that one would think he had trained with the League of Shadows.
He wasn’t on the Suns’ initial summer league roster and hadn’t been added in time to make the team’s media guide for Vegas. This is a guide people like yours truly used to memorize the entire roster prior to the first practice at the Thomas & Mack Center. During that first practice, he and a few other players kept their shooting shirts on, not revealing their name or number on the back of their jersey.
The next thing I’m about to admit is embarrassing, but since we’re all friends here, I trust we’ll keep it between us and the millions of others on the Internet. (I’m sure millions are reading this diary, right?) Collins arrival was so under the radar that during a conversation on the team bus with he and Mark West, the veteran center dropped quality knowledge on the young man, and I had mistakenly thought we were talking with Arinze Onuaku. Luckily I didn’t call him that while educating him on Mark’s game and informing him that he needed to watch film on his coach to truly appreciate his game. I did, however, site it wrong initially in my first edition of Summer League Diary.
I wasn’t alone, though. When he checked in for the first time against the Blazers on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center, it was followed by looks of confusion on fellow media members’ faces followed by a collective, “Oh, that Dwayne Collins.” Even the statisticians were caught off guard, as he was listed simply as Dwayne on the halftime stat sheet. I’ve confirmed, he hasn’t changed to a one-word name ala Cher, Oprah or Gallagher (Okay, that last one only comes to mind because I’ve seen a billboard for his watermelon smashing show every day since arrived in Vegas).
Mr. Irrelevant wasn’t so much in the first game, though. He contributed four points, grabbed a rebound and played some solid defense in just under 11 minutes of play. Even if the NBA’s official box score does have him listed as C. Dwayne.
Such is the life of a man selected with the last pick in the NBA draft. Just remember, a man with a similar build, game and skill set, his coach Mark West, was once drafted in the second round and found a way to turn it into a 17-year career. So you never know what can happen, even if they don’t remember your name right way.
A Little Vegas Flavor
While looking for something to do in Vegas on a Saturday night — I know, I’m a loser when I can’t find something to occupy me in Sin City — I found an ad for something interesting. It wasn’t one of the many scandalous type shows that litter Vegas’ bright lights. It was for something called, “Gregory Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater.”
As an NBA guy you can probably guess exactly where my mind went. Unfortunately, after much investigation (really just a Google search) I found out it was not in fact a show where Spurs coach Gregg Popovich orders pets dressed as Manu, Duncan and Ginobili to do horribly embarrassing tricks.
A man can dream though, right?
Just So Hollywood
Found this guy while walking around the Thomas & Mack Center. It’s Captain Jack Sparrow if he lost all confidence and decided his best course of action was ditching the high-seas and becoming a typical Lakers fan.