There’s something about the NBA Summer League that brings basketball back to its roots.
Once the team is away from the hotel and the strip in Las Vegas, the bright lights are gone and it’s just the game.
While certain players on the 2012 “Summer Suns” may not become stars in the association, they are guys that have been around basketball their whole lives. And they probably will continue to be around the game, in some fashion, for the foreseeable future.
The game forms bonds between these players.
Take Suns rookie point guard Kendall Marshall and his summer league teammate Erving Walker. While Marshall was taken 13th overall in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft out of basketball-factory North Carolina, Walker is playing this summer to make a team after his career with Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators came to an end last March.
The two were both stars even before their high-profile college careers.
Marshall was a highly-touted point guard from Virginia, while Walker was equally impressive in AAU and throughout his high school career at Christ the King Regional High School in New York.
“Yeah, I’ve known Erv (Erving Walker) since I was 10 or 11. I used to look up to him and watched him play when he was with Team Next (in AAU),” Marshall said. “Like he told me, he liked watching my team play. We really have just been reminiscing back to when we were 10 or 11 and in our AAU days.”
Walker, too, said that basketball has been a common thread for these two since very early on in life.
“I feel like I’m cool with all the guys on our team, but I’ve known Kendall since he was in the fourth grade,” Walker said. “We’re both point guards, and, you know, he’s a good player.
“I’ve just always thought that good plays have a respect for each other.”
Then came Sunday’s summer league lidlifter for the Suns, and Walker was given an opportunity to impress.
Oddly enough, that opportunity came because Marshall was held out of the game while his first contract with Phoenix was finalized.
Summer league head coach Dan Majerle saw a performance from Walker that reminded him of what the professional game is all about.
Walker scored 12 points off the bench, and he didn’t miss a shot. The spark-plug guard made all five shots from the field and both from 3-point distance. He dished out two assists, and continually broke full-court pressure to get his team in the open court.
“That’s what the NBA is about, though. It’s about guys getting a chance to play, being ready and when they get their chance to play they show what they can do. Erving did that, so good for him,” Majerle said.