Friday, August 10, 2012

BIG BOY BALL: a golden Greater NC Pro-Am Summer

The Greater NC Pro-Am Grand Prize awaits its owner 
For everyone who attended this year’s Greater NC Pro-Am Basketball Summer League,  the games will hold a  special place in their hearts and memories since they all coincided with Team USA Basketball’s London 2012 Olympics mission to bring home the gold. As of the time of this blog posting, Team USA  is only one game away from cruising to a deserved spot at the top of the winners’ podium, leaving behind a reel of highlights including a 156-73 blowout victory against Nigeria.  In that game, N.Y. Knicks All-Star, Carmelo Anthony sank jumper-after-jumper, scoring 37 points.  That’s nothing.  Two days ago, during an NC Pro-Am Tournament playoff game, Tar Heel playmaker and NC Pro-Am’ regular season MVP, P.J. Hairston put up 49 points against a team led by Brooklyn Nets’ star, Jerry Stackhouse.  Also, while Hairston and Stackhouse may bleed the same Tar Heel blue, it didn’t stop Hairston from posterizing his older, UNC bredren.

Still, Stackhouse’s Banks Law Firm team managed to knock Hairston and his Sheraton Imperial team out of the tournament in the semifinals.  The credit for that win goes to another Tar Heel, Reggie Bullock, who put up 31 points against Rasheed Wallace and Hairston. Bullock didn’t play at all during the regular season, but he joined Stackhouse’s Banks Law Firm team during the tournament, when it counted.  In the championship game, Bullock, Stackhouse, Bo Ingram, Quincy Miller and USC’s J.T. Terrell ran all over the Duke-filled DreamWorks squad.  Duke freshman Amile Jefferson, was the victim of several, vicious Stackhouse shot blocks, Rasheed Sulaimon struggled in his limited playing time, Rodney Hook threw up airballs, and aside from a few spectacular plays between Quinn Cook and N.C. Central’s Dominique Sutton, the DreamWorks team looked defeated and disconnected as soon as the second half started. 

2012 Greater NC Pro-Am Tournament Champions, Banks Law Firm 
Stacked with two NBA players and the tournament MVP, Reggie Bullock, Banks Law Firm’s 91-84 victory over DreamWorks may not have been the most electrifying way to end a summer full of nail-biters and buzzer-beaters, but they did put on one final, flawless workshop.  The Duke boys are young and this is their first summer playing together.  Hopefully they’ll bring this summer’s experience to their upcoming college basketball season.  

But let's be honest, Greater NC Pro-Am wasn't basketball camp.  It wasn't a dreadful series of basketball scrimmages, and it wasn't life or death.  Sure, individual and team reputations were on the line all summer and many fans showed up to get some serious previews of their favorite players before the next NBA and college basketball seasons, but it was just as fun as it was competitive, just as much of a party as it was a bunch of duels, and just as dazzling as it was a little heartbreaking.  Some the best ballers from North Carolina, the ACC, and the NBA showed off high-scoring games, wicked dunks, three-point shooting exhibitions, dance moves, fan love, their love/ hate relationship with referees, and most importantly, good-fellowship.  

Team USA will win the gold medal in London and it will have been expected, but absolutely nothing at this summer's NC Pro-Am was predictable.  However, we did expect NC Pro-Am to average a billion highlights per night, and we knew that it'd be even more thrilling to sit inside N.C. Central's McClendon-McDougald Gymnasium and witness the action.  I'll take our golden, "Big Boy Ball" in Durham over gold medal, Olympic ball in London any day.  Next summer, we'll do it again and we'll have even more surprises, celebrities, big-time hoopers, and stunning highlights on deck.  Maybe you can play too, but remember; don't step on the NC Pro-Am court unless you're ready to unleash your GROWN MAN MOVES.