NBA Captures Spirit of Summer Basketball with #NBASummer
By Matthew McQuade
Basketball has always been a winter sport, but players know it will always be a summer game. The organized side of basketball, with its heated gymnasiums, retractable rims, striped referees, and color coded uniforms, is the finished product of countless hours of anonymous practice spent by ballers across the country who honed their jumpshots, handle, and instinct on playground courts in the sweltering heat of summer basketball.
Leagues and organizations that claim basketball during the winter cede their formalized control during the summer when improvised Summer Leagues, Summer Tournaments, and Summer Camps take over. And although many summer events have become controlled by corporate basketball interests, the summer still largely remains grassroots.
Summer basketball is for improvement, development, hope, prospects and their dreams. Summer basketball is the reason last year’s bench players show up next fall as starters. Summer basketball is about who is the most dedicated
, who is willing to put in the work, and for those that love the game, summer basketball is all about fun.
The NBA in 2018 has fully captured the grassroots spirit of summer basketball with the NBA Summer League. Summer leagues across the country are local celebrations of the areas best talent including former high school stars and future ones. Underage prospects test themselves by playing up against older competition and past legends make cameos at the summer courts that once turned them into stars.
It could have been difficult for the NBA to capture something as personal and local as summer basketball. Indeed the NBA Summer League began more as an introduction for NBA management staffs to meet their newly drafted talent than an actual fan experience. Today, the Summer League has transformed, thanks to a prime Las Vegas location, fully televised action, and full NBA Franchise participation. NBA Superstars stop by in street clothes to take in the newest additions to their rosters, comment to the media, and sign autographs. The NBA Summer League almost feels like the ComicCon of the NBA. A player/fan experience that brings players closer and makes them more approachable than any other media orchestrated event can make possible. And unlike the NBA regular season, at NBA Summer League, every team has a reason to be hopeful.
The games are competitive yet ultimately inconsequential. Moments of brilliant potential ebb and flow with sloppy and lackadaisical play…. just like your local summer league. The most that can be accomplished here is for an individual player to serve notice that he’s coming. A show stopping dunk, or a signature performance, can catapult a young draftee into the NBA consciousness and create a reputation that endures throughout his career.
Across the country bouncing basketballs echo out into the night as the sun goes down and young hoopers hoist their final shots for the day. If they are lucky they might have lights at their courts and a city that keeps them on. The NBA Summer League is reminiscent of these same moments, hopeful young players who are as close to the shared NBA dreams of millions as one can get before pulling on an official NBA jersey. These players are not quite there, but they soon will be. I am spoiled that the NBA has managed to capture the excitement and thrill of summer basketball and what it represents to hoopers across America.