May 22, 2015

Looking Forward To Summer League

It's been a week since the 2014-2015 Washington Wizards season ended in stunning fashion. Last Friday night I stood in the upper deck of Verizon Center and went nuts as Paul Pierce hit his miracle game tying shot to send game six against the Atlanta Hawks into overtime and preserve the Wizards' season at least for five more game minutes. Not wanting to miss even a second of the extra session, I rushed to the bathroom so I'd be back to see the opening tip and every other moment of overtime ball.

By the time I got back to my seat, the replay had been studied and restudied and the officials determined Pierce's shot was still in his hand as time expired. Game over. Season over! What a crushing blow. I'm not sure there's been an end to a Wizards season quite like this. Half the crowd filed out; the other half lingered like their feet were glued to the floor in front of their seats. I couldn't move for about two or three minutes. Then I left.

I think the statutory mourning period for the Wizards season is probably over. Over the past six days, I haven't watched a single whole game of either the Eastern or Western Conference Finals and I've done my best to stay off Twitter, although let's face it there are few things more difficult in life than staying off Twitter. That site has changed my life for the better in so many ways, especially when it comes to my favorite basketball team.

In the last week, we've not only had both conference finals start but we've also seen (I actually did see this although honestly I almost missed it) the Minnesota Timberwolves snag the number one overall pick in next month's NBA Draft via the annual Draft Lottery show, which is probably the least exciting NBA event outside of a Knicks-Sixers game last year. The Wizards were mercifully absent from the Lottery this year for the second consecutive year. So for the Wizards, the Draft is next on June 25 and then it's time for Summer League.

2013 with Wizards forward Chris Singleton.
Can I get a "Woot! Woot!" for Summer League? God I love this event. Las Vegas. Mid-July. NBA games featuring most of the 2015 Draft class and a bunch of folks who will likely never make an NBA team. How does life get any better than this, at least for the three nights maximum that I seem to be able to stand Vegas for on any single trip? The Wizards have been going to the desert each July since the event was founded in 2004. I've been there every year since I found out about it in 2008. Every year I say I'm not going to Summer League and every year I go back. I can't possibly miss this event. It's too good. There is absolutely no place else you can get up close interactions with general managers, coaches and players from around the league. It's essential for the die hard, no-life-outside-of-basketball, NBA fan.

Summer League this year starts Friday, July 10. I'll be on a plane out there the very next morning in time for tip-off that afternoon if the Wizards are playing that day. While I'm out there I know I'm going to run into some of the same Wizards fans I see every year, familiar faces from past years. I also know I'm going to get a chance to possibly check in with Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Randy Wittman. My favorite moment from last year's Summer League was when I congratulated Ernie on the Paul Pierce signing as he walked past my seat and got a pat on the shoulder in return. Where else could that happen?

I don't know how many Wizards season ticket holders head to Vegas for Summer League but I'm sure there's someone there besides me. It would be great if we could get a core base of fans each year out there in the desert, at least for a few days. So if there are any Wizards fans headed out there, find me on Twitter and we can spend a few minutes maybe talking about our favorite hoops team. And for the Wizards organization, I'd love it if they would host an event each year for season ticket holders. For me, that would be a small gesture that could add a ton of value for this 15 year season ticket holder. Heck, Wizards season ticket holder Jose Andres has a couple of places out there now, maybe there's a deal in there somewhere. Can't wait for July 11!!!

Where else would a Wizards fan stay except in a castle? Excalibur is cheap, convenient and reliable. I assume I'm staying here again, but you never know.

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