The Greatest Summer Game of All Time?
Chris Paul assembles a group of superstars to go at it in Winston-Salem.
Compared to the rest of the Lockout 2011 games, Chris Paul gathered the strongest group of NBA stars put together yet to participate in Winston Salem State’s homecoming. Pandemonium would be an understatement of the events that ensued before the game even took place, with thousands of ticketholders being turned away from a game that was set to benefit CP3 Foundation. Word on the street was that there were mad counterfeit tickets being sold, resulting in numerous fans throwing out some expletive laced tirades on local police officers. Needless to say, getting in the gym was a bit chaotic for everyone involved—myself included, as well as Tristan Thompson’s little brother Dishawn.
What the star-studded lineup showed was how much the players truly respect Chris Paul and everything that he’s doing with his foundation. Of all of the celebrity games that have been played throughout this summer and fall, NONE even came close to rivaling the stars that CP3 brought to his hometown of Winston-Salem. The cast of stars that made the venture out to Winston Salem State proves how much everyone in the League truly reveres Paul, both as a player and person.
Once the game actually started off, it was clear from the rip that it was going to be more of a laissez-faire game than the gritty game that we saw in Philly the weekend before. John Wall coasted down the baseline to bang a uncontested 360, so you already knew what it was from that point out. There were moments where a few guys battled each other for a possession or two during the first half, but nothing substantial that would make a good story of an old school summer league battle. Rudy Gay got more buckets than anyone in the first half (22 points), though his team was down 87-78 at the half.
The second half brought a little more intensity initially, but that quickly faded as the players became more concerned with giving the fans a show than potentially getting hurt. While you can’t necessarily blame them for not diving on the ground for loose balls or stepping up to take a charge, you would have liked to see the guys exert a little more effort on both ends of the court. LeBron shut the house down with a few dunks, John Wall was a blur in traffic, and KD got more buckets than anyone. None of this is really news to anyone, but it was definitely hella cool for the fans to see all of this in a gym that was barely the size of the high school gym that I played in. In the end of things, it was Durant and White Team who walked away with a 175-146 victory.
Below are the full rosters for both teams, along with breakdowns for every player in the game:
Black team: LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Dwayne Wade, Mario Chalmers, Kyrie Irving, Josh Howard, Tristan Thompson, Mario Chalmers, Josh Selby
White Team: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Damion James, J.R. Smith, Stephen Curry, John Wall
LeBron James, 6-8, SG/SF, Miami Heat: Though Durant walked away with 48 points and the dub, it was the King who stole the show at Winston-Salem State. Ending the game with 32 points, he was the sixth leading scorer in the game but may have offered more highlights than everyone else combined. The two oops that he caught both brought the game to a halt. There seemed to be a bit of animosity built up between he and Durant, especially after KD drilled hiim with a hard foul in the fourth quarter. The reception that Bron got from the fans in North Carolina was a polar opposite to that of which he received in Philly, where fans roasted him every time he touched the rock. Hoopheads in Winston-Salem seemed to appreciate the Heat superstar’s talents more than they disliked him for The Decision. All in all, it served as a reminder of how ridiculously talented and how much of a physical freak James is, which is appreciated far more in a high school sized gym.
Kevin Durant, 6-10, SG, Oklahoma City Thunder: KD continued his dominance of the summer circuit with his 48-point game against LeBron and Co. With a mixture of tough 3-pointers and absurd dunks, it was clear that the League’s scoring champion definitely wanted to win this game. He didn’t take it easy on whomever stepped up to the plate to guard him, which had to have been at least 5 guys throughout the evening. The wicked step-backs, between the legs dunk, and full extension oop were just a few of the highlights for the man who continues to solidify himself in the convo for best player in the League.
Rudy Gay, 6-8, SF, Memphis Grizzlies- After missing a huge chunk of time this summer rehabbing from his shoulder injury, Gay made his return to full go action for the league at Impact Academy and seems like he’s going to be a fixture on the lockout’s barnstorming tour. Dropping 38 points, he probably showed more in terms of basketball skills than any of the other NBA stars in attendance. Gay drilled a number of deep 3′s, showed off his gorgeous pull-up, and threw down a few vicious dunks to show that he still has every bit of the bounce that made him one of the league’s elite athletes. It’s going to be interesting to see how Gay is able to fit in with the new-look Grizzlies once the lockout ends given their current chemistry, but on the bright side, they’ll still be one of the funner teams to play with in NBA 2k12.
John Wall, 6-4, PG, Washington Wizards: As JW tweeted on Sunday, he has his bounce back. He started off the game with a 360 dunk less than a minute in, only to follow with a behind the back dunk and windmill off the wall. There weren’t a whole lot of pick and rolls or designed sets being ran, so we basically just saw how sick of a dunker Wall was throughout the game. His jumper is looking a bit better than it did in the past and he’s looking a bit stronger, so there’s a bit of useful basketball knowledge that we obtained from the game. The Wizards star finished with 34 points in the win and was the second most exciting in the building behind LeBron.
Dwayne Wade, 6-4, SG, Miami Heat: Wade started off the game a little quiet and let James do the majority of the damage, before turning it on midway through the first and reminding fans how unique of a player he is en route to 32 points. He wasn’t really shooting the rock from the perimeter or making any dazzling passes, but some of the finishes that he made couldn’t be done by anyone else on the planet. The two-handed oop he caught off of the glass showed that he’s still got the bounce that he had as a youngster, though he just brings it out in small doses nowadays.
Carmelo Anthony, 6-8, SG/SF, New York Knicks: As one of the players who fans were most hyped to see, many walked away disappointed with the performance of the Knicks star. Melo didn’t play for a large portion of the game and was practically in chill mode the entire time he was on the hardwood. A few jumpers and some joking around on the bench was all the fans got out of Anthony in Winston-Salem.
Chris Paul, 6-1, PG, New Orleans Hornets: Perhaps the best all-around showing in the game, Paul dropped 39 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals in his home town. There was a brief moment in the game where it appeared as if he and Kyrie were going to wage a mini one-on-one battle, but that quickly subsided given the mini-battle that LeBron and KD were having. A few dunks, chillin’ with his boys, and getting some run seemed to be the ultimate weekend for CP3, who was quoted as saying “I think that was the most fun that I’ve ever had playing in a basketball game.”
Stephen Curry, 6-3, PG/SG, Golden State Warriors: Though a budding NBA All-Star, Curry isn’t the type of cat who is going to shine in a game of this nature. He did however drill a pair of back to back 30 foot 3′s and nearly brought the house down when the announcer tempted to him to pull from a logo on the court about 40 feet out. The Warriors combo guard also can be seen in the mix getting up and banging on the break, though I don’t think that he’ll be tweeting about that anytime soon.
J.R. Smith, 6-5, SG, Zhejiang Wanma/Denver Nuggets: After Earl Clark bolted China for its cuisine…(ergh, I mean family reasons), it should come as no surprise that J.R. Smith is taking his time here in the States before heading to The Far East. Unlike the usual JR, he wasn’t jacking up 30 foot 3-pointers and was basically letting all of the bigger names take center stage. You will catch him in the Ballislife mix (see below) with a couple of filthy tip dunks, though.
Kyrie Irving, 6-2, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers: The No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft laced them up for the first time on center stage since his Duke career ended to Arizona back in March. Irving still didn’t look like he was completely at 100 percent and had to take a back seat to LeBron and Wade for the majority of the game. Kyrie threw down a couple of dunks and had a few really nice dimes, but it was apparent that there was still a bit of rust on his game that he was looking to shake off.
Tristan Thompson, 6-8, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers: In a game that was guard dominated, there weren’t too many touches that came the way of the No. 4 pick in this past June’s draft. The former UT Longhorn and Grassroots Canada product narrowly missed on what would have been a filthy reverse oop and looked to lock up Kevin Durant at any chance possible. The highlight of the game for TT had to have been when he pinned the NBA’s scoring champion against the glass, though it hasn’t surfaced in any of the mixes on the game yet.
Mario Chalmers, 6-2, PG, Miami Heat: Much like the regular season, Chalmers had to take a bit of a backseat to James and Wade. Not a guy who would ever give you a ton of highlights in the first place, he knocked down a number of open 3′s frmo the corners, but wasn’t really able to showcase his talents on the defensive end in such a chill game.
Josh Selby, 6-2, PG/SG, Memphis Grizzlies: A regular on the barnstorming tour, Selby seems to be a fixture in just about every one of these games from coast to coast. After an up-and=down freshman year at Kansas and being drafted a little lower than he hoped, he’s rebounded fairly well with some strong play this summer in Memphis, DC, Baltimore and everywhere else in between. The games this summer have reinforced that there’s no denying the natural talent that Selby has, but it will be his willingness to buy into a system and accept a lesser role that will ultimately determine how his NBA career shapes out.
Josh Howard, 6-6, SG/SF, Washington Wizards: The most noise that Howard made was during warmups, where everyone was asking “Who’s that guy with the towel on his head?” He didn’t get much burn and still looks to be a shadow of the player that he was when he played for the Mavs.
Damion James, 6-8, PF, New Jersey Nets: James played less for the white team than he did for the Nets, offering a breather to Melo, KD and Co. only when they asked. The former first round pick didn’t do much of anything out there, but still received the obligatory mention based on the fact that he was even selected to play in the game.