Biggest Little City in Biggest Little League.
This year, the NBA D-League started a franchise in Reno, Nevada and revived a tradition that had been dead for over 20-years. The Reno Bighorns, who had previously existed in the now defunct CBA and Western Basketball Association, took the court for the first time since 1983. The latest incarnation of the Bighorns, despite struggling with a 13-20 record, features familiar faces including Patrick Ewing Jr., Gerry McNamara and David Noel. Despite their tough start, one player believes that taking a chance on Reno seems to have paid off for the NBA.
SLAM readers might remember the name Daryl “Magic” Dorsey from our “JC Wit’ The Remedy” feature from August 2003, in which Alan Paul profiled some of the top Junior College players in the country. Dorsey, a Baltimore native, turned pro in 2005 and has played in the D-League during the last four seasons. He came to Reno early in this season after spending previous campaigns in Anaheim, Albuqurque, Austin and with the now non-existent Florida Flame franchise.
SLAM spoke to Dorsey during his lunch break.
SLAM: Where are you, Magic?
Daryl Dorsey: I just got to the casino, I’m gonna get something to eat with my teammates. You know, that’s how they live here—casinos. So we eat here all the time.
SLAM: What was the D-League like this year?
DD: Well of course there were more teams and different players. You know, usually it’ll be like the same players and stuff like that. This year the traveling, and stuff like that is a lot better. That’s pretty much all I can say about it. The D-League is the D-League (Laughs).
SLAM: You’re in Reno—that’s a new city for the D-League—what’s it like out there and how are the fans?
DD: Reno is by far the best city for the D-League to actually have a team in. We average the most fans. The fans come out faithfully and support us. Everywhere that you go here in Reno, fans are stopping you. You know Wal-Mart, wherever I’m at, fans are stopping me. So they really embrace the basketball team here, and this is only the first year. You know by far this is the best market here.
SLAM: Tell me, what’s different about Reno than the other cities that you played in—you probably played in some quieter towns. What’s it like compared to playing in these other D-League towns?
DD: I have to say, as far as the other places, they done already had the basketball teams there, and so I guess the people there were so used to it. But the people here in Reno, there’s a lot of stuff going on—it’s like Mini-Las Vegas—you know, so they really treat us like we NBA players. Like, we’re front page of the newspaper everyday. Everywhere we go, I eat for free. Like I haven’t paid for a meal in so long. So they just, it’s really embraced here, like it’s a lot of appearances and stuff like that where you go to schools—like when I walk into schools, soon as I get to school, you know usually people just look at me like he plays basketball; I want an autograph. Now when I walk into schools and stuff here its like, Magic Dorsey! Magic Dorsey! You know what I’m saying? Like everybody always knows who I am. It ain’t like I really got to get out there hi, my name is Magic Dorsey and I play for the Big Horns. Like everybody already knows who I am. So I really feel like an actual NBA superstar here. That’s how they treat you.
SLAM: Tell me, I know you probably want to say the Reno fans, but from the most honest perspective, who in the D-League has the most die-hard fans?
DD: Actually, not just cause I’m [here in Reno], but I really have to say Reno fans. Like, you got to see ‘em. Like, it’s ridiculous. They go crazy. They don’t just come out one game and don’t come the next day, they come every single game. Every single game we got over 4,000 people. But if I had to step out of the box for Reno fans, I have to say Sioux Falls and Idaho. Oh yeah, Dakota, too. But of course you know, Sioux Falls, Idaho, and Dakota were CBA teams, so they teams that’s been around for a long, long time. We actually average more fans than all three of them. And, it’s our first year in Reno. It’s amazing.
SLAM: What do you do to pass time on the road, are you guys still traveling via long bus trips?
DD: Oh, no. We fly everywhere. We don’t take no bus.
SLAM: No more bus rides?
DD: Na, we don’t do the bus [thing] no more. They stopped two-years ago. Well I pretty much get along with my teammates. So when we at the airport, we laughing and joking and talking about things. When we actually land at the city we playing in, of course we have like practice and go over stuff, I get together with the other point guard and we sit and we watch film on the game that we gonna play to break down what we need to do to help our team win. Or, just go restaurant or mall shopping. I do a lot of that. I do a lot of eating at restaurants and a lot of mall shopping.
SLAM: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the D-League?
DD: As far as the D-League, of course, everyone wishes they could get more money and get paid more money. As far as experience and stuff like that you can’t go wrong. You got NBA teams looking at you everyday. You’re playing against NBA players. You got an NBA coaching staff. You get a chance to better yourself as a player here in America, and of course, it’s—under the NBA—the second best league in America. You know, it also helps you out; I know I can have six-figured deals offered to me by numerous teams overseas and that’s because of my D-League experience and how good I’m doing.
SLAM: What would you say — for Daryl Dorsey—personally, was the biggest benefit of being in the D-League?
DD: Well I say a big benefit for me is that, for those who know how I grew up, you know they could see that I have achieved most of my goals and I’m halfway there. You know a lot of people, a lot of articles, and [newspaper] people calling me with [big] congratulations. I have a lot of family and friends that call to congratulate me after they see me on NBATV or something like that. So, for those, I feel like I’m representing for the last name Dorsey, cause I’m the only Dorsey that’s not locked up, [not killed], not doing drugs, and stuff like that. [So people have benefited from stuff off the basketball court, and on the court], as far as letting people know that no matter what you go through, you can survive it, you can succeed in life.
SLAM: Can you tell me about the best game that sticks out in your head—the one game you played in the D-League that kind of sticks out in your head?
DD: I would have to say the Iowa game where I played against Iowa and scored 26 points and like 15 [assists].That was when I was with the Albuquerque team.
It was one of those situations where coach put me in a game and I just felt that everything was going perfect for me. I was knocking down all my open shots. I was getting And-1s. I was finding the open guy. Everything just went good.
SLAM: Who’s the toughest team in the D-League this season—the team that you think should be a frontrunner right now?
DD: I really can’t say who’s a frontrunner because all the teams that were supposed to be number one, we beat ‘em. You know Bakersfield was the number one team and we beat them by like twenty-something. Dakota was up there and we beat them. So all of the teams that was top-ranked, we actually beat them. You know so I can’t really—you know how the D-League is: you could be the number one team and than, the next thing you know, be the tenth ranked team.
SLAM: If you had to make a prediction for the D-League final four who would you think would be in it—if you had to make just a rough guess?
DD: (Laughs) If I had to make a rough guess I’d say Reno Big Horns—I’m trying to do it by like the bracket—Reno Big Horns, Idaho—that would be it for our bracket. And for the other bracket I’d have to say—it’d be hard to say cause, like I said, all the teams that was supposed to be the number one teams, we beat ‘em. So, you know how that is.
SLAM: Why do you keep coming back to the D-League with all the opportunities that you’ve had?
DD: Like I said, I like being in America. I am not hurting for money. I have my money put into other things, and the experience of the NBA D-League, I enjoy it. I enjoy being in America so my family can still see me play. You know, I have friends that are still over here playing, and I feel as though the players in the D-League is the second-best players in the world to me.