Exhibition exhaustion

Winning is fun! High fives for everyone!

Oh…It’s on.

Durant vs. LeBron was fun. Bi-coastal bragging rights are all well and good.

But now, finally, we get the bareknuckled showdown we’ve all be waiting for.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

“A group led by New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony, will compete against a team made up of players primarily with Philadelphia ties.

The Anthony team is set to include megastars LeBron James (Cleveland), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) and Chris Paul (New Orleans). The team could also include former La Salle star Gary Neal (San Antonio), Eric Bledsoe (Los Angeles Clippers), Donte Greene (Sacramento) and Josh Selby (Memphis).

Slated to be headlining the Philly team is 76ers guard Lou Williams.”


Lou Williams, the most terrifying sixth man in the greater Philadelphia area. LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony–four of the world’s top players. Oh, and don’t forget Donte Green, he’s also an NBA player.

But wait, it gets even better:

“He is supposed to be joined by Episcopal Academy grad Wayne Ellington (Minnesota), South Jersey native Jason Thompson (Sacramento) and Friends’ Central product Hakim Warrick, now with the Suns.”

It’s like the All-Star game without Justin Bieber stepped into a teleportation device alongside the cast of Space Jam and accidentally produced a supernatural exhibition of sublime, intergalactic basketball.

I can only imagine that the September 25th game will be as mesmerizing as the last time NBA players flooded Penn’s famed Palestra in 2006. Gregg Popovic and then Quaker coach Fran Dunphy were buds, so when the Spurs came in town to smack around the 76ers, the Spurs would practice in West Philadelphia.

Penn players were privileged to witness the defending champs’ unassailable practice ethic. The Spurs prepared with a physical, intense half court scrimmage. As the hustling players’ sweat splatted on the hardwood, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and a couple other chuckling starters stood at half court and casually lofted 50 footers at the other rim.

Of such things are champions made. The Quakers must have learned their lesson, because they conquered the vaunted Ivy League then (almost) beat Texas in the NCAA Tournament.

Come September 25th, who knows what lessons will be learned by the thousands in attendance? Philly’s scrappy bunch of upstart NBA scraps just might scrape and claw their way to victory over the Voltron-like juggernaut of all-time great players. But just as likely is an early blowout that leads to a whole half of jogging and alley-oops that are somehow both disappointingly lazy and phenomenally athletic.

It’s a strange example of a game that features NBA players but is devoid of competitive suspense and consequence of any sort (as “Team Melo” doesn’t exactly rep Baltimore).

I’ve enjoyed the summer hoop circuit and appreciated the willingness of NBA players to play basketball in front of people for free (spectators are paying, but players aren’t seeing any cash). Thousands of fans who may never sit 10 rows back at an NBA game have gotten to see their heroes up close.

But this time I think I’ll do something that few on the court September 25th will: pass.

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