Dudley Talks Lockout ‘Series’
Jared Dudley dishes on the NBA-caliber ‘series,’ from conception to actualization.
Like a surprising number of things now do, the idea for Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series—a two-week long semi-league taking place at trainer Joe Abunassar’s Las Vegas, NV, Impact Basketball facility—was polished if not born on Twitter.
“I was talking to Brandon Jennings on Twitter and told him that we were going to do something,” Jared Dudley told SLAM in a phone interview. “I just think once someone heard the idea and once I kinda gave [Abunassar] the idea, he ran with it and got it moving. It’s different getting the idea and then getting all the right steps in to making it a success, and that’s what Joe’s been doing.”
The brainchild of Dudley and Abunassar, Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series is a competitive NBA-caliber round robin slated to start this coming Monday. The games, to be played at around 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Impact’s gym on East Sunset Road, replace the daily player-heavy pickup runs played under Abunassar and the rest of the staff’s watchful eye. For his part, Dudley, an Impact regular, expects this to be some of the best organized basketball since the 2010-11 NBA season concluded.
“A lot of people are bringing their own teammates to help work on chemistry,” says Dudley. “[My teammate] Hakim Warrick is coming up from the Suns. You got big names like John Wall, Stephen Jackson, Zach Randolph, Chauncey Billups.
“You’re not gonna have maybe the stars like LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant]. But if you’re a fan of good, fundamental basketball, you’re gonna have your up-and-coming players and you’re gonna have your veterans that run the game. When it comes to point guard: Kyle Lowry, Chauncey, John Wall, CJ Watson. So you have veteran point guard and young point guards. You also have mix, from All-Stars like Tayshaun Prince and Rudy Gay to up-and-comers like myself and Austin Daye.”
Good as the talent may be, and organized as the schedule of games may be, due to certain clauses in the standard NBA contract, Dudley is weary of calling the 6-8 team proceedings a “league.”
“We’re trying to stay under the love-of-the-game clause, so no one’s contract can get voided,” says Dudley, the Phoenix Suns player union representative. “We’re doing all the right procedures. We’re consulting with Billy Hunter, Mark Bartelstein, Jeff Schwartz, [Arn] Tellem.
“They’ll be no coaches, but there will be refs and scoreboards,” continues Dudley. “Anything we need to twist and turn—maybe one free throw instead of two—that help us stay in the conduct rules, we’ll do. If we have to have the refs not wear uniforms, then they’ll be regular people who are really refs just not wearing uniforms. It’s gonna be legit, in the sense of NBA players going after it.”
Aside from Dudley’s pragmatic reasons, the series doesn’t really qualify as a league, regardless. As the small forward mentioned, there will be no coaches. Additionally, there will be no practices, set plays or completely set rosters.
Still, the series is a major step up from summer pro-am games that NBA players randomly participate in. Whether or not they wear striped uniforms, there will be referees enforcing NBA rules. When it comes to the teams, they will be assembled so that teammates can play with one another. And, long before the afternoon games, players will be able to work out in the Impact facilities in the morning.
“It’s not gonna be like a Vegas Summer League,” says Dudley, “but it’s not going to be like a pickup. It’s going to be an in-between.”
For fans who live in Vegas’ vicinity, 500-700 tickets to each game will be available at the cost of $15-20 on a first-come, first-served basis. For those who want to attend multiple games, week passes will be available. For fans sprinkled throughout the US and globe, the games will be streamed online at a site to be named shortly.
“I’m excited for Las Vegas,” says Dudley. “They were kind of cheated out of Summer League this year, and you know what, were kind of giving them something even better. You’re gonna get better-quality basketball playes that you wouldn’t normally get to see here in Vegas. So that’s where the bonus is at.”
Among the 40-plus players set to participate, a plethora of exciting young players (Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, John Wall) and steady veterans (Billups, Al Harrington, Jermaine O’Neal) have already committed to playing. Other players have until the weekend to express interest. At that point, soft rosters will be set for the series.
“Every team is going to be different,” says Dudley. ” The idea is to win and have fun and also get in game-shape… We don’t have plays, but it’s full-on basketball. We’ll throw it in the post, pick-and-roll, push it on the break, so it’s pretty good basketball.”
As for the Twitter impetus, Brandon Jennings, hasn’t acknowledged any plans to play in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series…yet.
“His teammate Stephen Jackson is coming, so I think it’d be a good look for him to start getting chemistry,” says Dudley. “And knowing him and the publicity he gets, I’m sure Brandon will make it out this coming week.”