It’s back.

Well, it was.  Now it’s gone again.  However, for one day, NBA talent (past, present, and future) hit the hardwood at the Key Arena to sort of remind us of the “good ol’ days”… and also what it’s currently like to be all but deprived of pro hoops in the 206 (no disrespect to the Storm, of course).

The Hoops 206 Charity Basketball Classic (H206) was promoted as a chance to see local-guys-gone-big square off against various other NBA players in an exhibition.  I, of course, jumped at the chance to check it out.  It didn’t really matter to me who they had landed as participants (more on that in a moment), as I just wanted to feel some semblance of that vibe again.  I basically just got excited about getting a taste of the old experience of driving over to the Key, strolling through the Seattle Center, and getting to my seat to watch top talent, as the scent of popcorn and things like that filled the air.

So, enough with the nostalgia trip.

The day got off to an inauspicious start, as Mercer St. was closed down for construction (yet again), thus cutting off the main route to the arena for anyone coming from anywhere north of the area.  The result is basically a mess of detours and what not – a relatively minor thing but a fucking annoyance, nonetheless.  In fact, I called an audible and just chose to find a place that I knew would be cheap to park at and went for it, despite it being about a 20-minute walk from the venue.  That didn’t bother me.  If anything, it took me back to the times where I used to live within walking distance (a 40-minute trek on foot, no less) of the area and how I’d occasionally just jaunt back and forth to the place if I happened to be going solo.  That, in turn, reminded me of the walks home after events, during the dead of night, which always resulted in a few things:

1) Me inevitably being offered “anything” by a slew of shady characters who roamed the streets at that hour
2) Me going into some off-beat convenience store to buy a Vitamin Water or something, realizing that, “Damn, the music in here is so loud that, if gun shots went off, nobody would even notice a thing.”

These are the types of things that tend to make me feel more “alive” than anything that hiking or some shit like that could do for me.

Sorry, forgot I was done with the nostalgia.

Anyhow, I ended up getting there way early, before the doors opened up.  As I stood there and pretended to do things on my phone (you know how it is… just trying to look less awkward or whatever), a guy and his woman came up to me:

Guy: What’s this arena here?
Wes: It’s the Key Arena.
Guy: What’s going on here today?
Wes: They’re doing this charity basketball game, where a bunch of current and former pros from the area are playing against other NBA players.
Guy: Oh, cool.  Thanks man.
Wes: Yeah.  No problem.

Pleasant guy.  I just liked the “what’s this arena” part, as we stood 5 feet away from a massive KEY ARENA sign.  Shortly after that, a guy came wandering by, yelling about Al-Qaeda, so I was pleased when the doors opened a few minutes later.

I walked through the main entrance and the first person I saw, quite literally, was Klay Thompson.  He was signing autographs alongside somebody else.  If there was anything that I was looking for that anyone could even begin to possibly look at as “research” regarding this game, it was just to see how guys like Klay and other rookies physically looked next to some of the league’s more established players.  Speaking of which, here were the rosters, as listed on the official program:

– Ryan Appelby
– Adam Morrison
– Robert Swift…

(… fine… here were the real rosters)

(Spencer Hawes, Aaron Brooks, Martell Webster, Brandon Roy, Terrence Williams, Jamal Crawford, Will Conroy, Rodney Stuckey, Michael Dickerson, Isaiah Thomas, Marvin Williams, Avery Bradley, and Brian Scalabrine)

(Dorrell Wright, Troy Bell, Pooh Jeter, Michael Beasley, Corey Williams, Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler, Trevor Ariza, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Marcus Banks)

Here’s the deal.  Brandon Jennings was advertised by various sources (including the official H206 website), and he wasn’t there.  Neither were Williams, Bradley, Scalabrine, Bell, Ariza, or Banks.  Roy and Stuckey didn’t suit up.  Honestly, I couldn’t care less about any of that.  I doubt that anyone expected somebody in Roy’s condition to play a second, and, outside of the faithful Marcus Banks fans that no doubt came from around the globe to see their beloved hero, I don’t think anybody was actually disappointed by the no-shows and/or false advertising.  It was more about the group than any of the individuals.  They also didn’t honor the 1979 championship team at halftime like they said they were going to.  The only sign of that group was Jack Sikma who, along with SHAWN KEMP, coached the Seattle team.  Again, not too concerned about that.  It was this group’s inaugural effort and it’s a charity deal, so you’re lucky to get half of the guys you reach out to to actually show up…

… besides, Singler was there, so how could anyone possibly be disappointed?

The game itself was basically a cross between the feel of an All-Star game and an AND1 exhibition.  A loose type of thing – exactly what you’d expect.  No defense, lots of one-on-one with flashy ball-handling, lots of deep threes, dunks, etc.  Let’s put it this way: there were 4, 10-minute quarters and the Seattle team still put up 140 points.  It was a fun time.  A few specific moments of slight interest:

– Singler gets no love.  None.  Other than a few lobs from his Duke boy, Smith, he was out there alone.  I swear to you, he ended up on Will Conroy, one-on-one, and I swear, Conroy wanted that one bad.  Of course, it ddin’t work – Singler’s just TOO STRONG.

– Speaking of Smith, I think I see why Portland may have drafted him.  I didn’t really like that pick and still don’t, but he’s more athletic in-person and has a sense of pro disposition already.  Like I said, you can’t tell shit about how a guy will play at the pro level, especially in a game like this.  However, in terms of the “eye test,” I’m not saying he passes, but he scored higher here than I would have expected.

– Terrence Williams wanted that top-scorer title, and nobody can tell me differently (he was named the game’s MVP).

– Spencer Hawes went ahead and shaved the Space Needle into the back of his head for the occasion:

– I was reminded of why Jamal Crawford was such a highly-touted PG when he was coming out of high school here.  When it comes to the moves and that “sizzle” type of handle, he’s got it.  There was a sequence where he was guarded one-on-one by Thompson, and he started breaking Klay down, culminating in him putting the ball between Klay’s legs in a wicked
move that elicited several OH NO HE DIDN’T’s from the crowd.

– All was not lost when it came to Klay, however, as he won the halftime 3-point shootout.

– Jeremy Tyler is, indeed, very big.  And he’s clearly very young.

– Michael Beasley had a weird charisma to him.  He was constantly talking, playfully, with several instances of asking for foul calls from the refs or moments of “something, something, motherfucker” towards teammates.  Then, he’d be biting his nails.  Then, he’d be asking someone courtside what time it was (mid-game).  I don’t know.  He’s interesting to watch, perhaps because I unfairly assume that there’s a better than 50% chance of him being a little high at any given time.  Unfairly, perhaps.

All in all, it was a good time for a good cause.  Definitely a success for anybody involved.  They have said that they plan to make it a yearly deal, so let’s get the planning started now and get AMMO back to the Key so we can all relive the glory days.


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