Rocky Mountain Revue in Review

The incredibly mobile Pichi Campana Aguanta strikes again, this time with a trip to his native Jazz's fortified summer league. Take it all in.

So I took you up on the "FD Summer League Correspondent" thing and parlayed it into some press credentials at the Rocky Mountain Revue in SLC. I sent an email requesting a press pass but didn't get a response, so I just went to will call and asked if they had my credentials. The guy hooked me up even though they didn't have a pass made for me, gave me a temporary pass and told me to show up tomorrow and for a real one. One of my friends works with the Jazz marketing team, so between my pass and her radio we had unfettered access. I kept it professional and tried to establish some credibility for future FD stringers. I was walking on the court, going back in the tunnel, and had security guys giving me photo tips and inside info while they led me out on the floor to take pictures.

(Mustafa Al-Sayyad of Sudan fresh off a pulled hamstring.)

The Revue is a totally different environment than Vegas—it's the anti-FreeDarko, in a lot of ways. The crowd was loud and involved because the Jazz were playing, which made the basketball much more organized and intense than the scrub ball in Vegas. The place gets packed with basketball fans, mostly of the Jerry Sloan-ite variety, who come looking for solid chest passes and good rebounding. Utah State University alum Spencer Nielson had the place eating out of his hand when he scored a hard-nosed lay-up. The entire audience was in rapt attention to the play on the court the whole time; it was almost a reverential scene. So instead of clusters of scouts and couches and front office types wheeling and dealing in the stands, it was Popovich and Sloan watching the action in a right way trance.

Tangentially speaking of religion and basketball, I don't know how familiar you are with the Mormon scene, but every LDS meetinghouse has an amazing basketball court inside. It's usually full court with nicer floors and goals than a lot of high schools. So Utah kids grow up playing ball inside on nice courts with three point lines all painted. We're usually white and smaller than your average, and we grow up shooting nothing but jumpers and threes. Then we get to college and meet buddies from back east who grew up playing outside, where the wind blows any shot from farther than 5 feet and the wires hanging over head make it a hazard. So they know how to take it to the rim, where we dare not tread, and vice versa—they can't believe that we can all shoot. Seriously, church ball in Utah a Paul Pierce / Baron Davis fantasy league—nothing but 3s.

On the whole, nothing really crazy happened, and the scene was more "basketball" than "smoky back room," unfortunately. It was a great time, though, and I'll head back tonight proudly sporting the FD press pass.

Seeing Sloan up close was a very strange experience, especially as a lifelong Jazz fan. He seemed like a nice grandpa, and I never imagined calling him that. He actually seemed pleasant and not intimidating. It was an interesting contrast to the gravitas of Eddie Jordan in Vegas, who I'd kind of considered a clown during the playoffs. For all the Knick fans: Scott Layden holding it down with the Jazz brain trust. He's been doing some of the head coaching duties during the Revue.

Robert Swift and Friend. Swift's doing his best to channel a vintage Bill Walton. An excellent move on his part, by the way; last year he looked about 13 years old.

The new ball. It seriously feels like a crappy outdoor ball that's been used on asphalt. Like the one that never gets picked when you choose the ball to use in a pickup game at the gym.

I only include this one because the SLCC mascot doesn't wear pants.

There were NBA scouts watching kids hoop it up outside. This guy was on the front row the whole game so I don't know if he's a scout or a writer. But he was loving being the wise old man giving tips to the youngsters.

Bob Hill's Hair. He was sitting about 10 feet from Popovich and I wondered if that old bad blood would boil over (to mix my metaphors). But from a style perspective, could Pop and Hill be considered the nadir and zenith, respectively? I think so.

Salim Stoudemire was nice enough to stand for a picture even though he had ice tied to every appendage of his body right before this picture.

FreeDarko joins the Boston Globe in the thick of Mainstream Media.


At 7/18/2006 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm the dick who has to make a correction: Spencer Nelson is the USU alum playing for the Jazz, not Nielson. For some reason Utahns constantly mess that name up. My last name's Nelson, but mispronounced/misspelled Nielson by people here easily two out of every three times. No idea why, I don't even have a Mormon conspiracy theory guess.

- Sene looked pretty good here last night, the SL Tribune was slobbering about it this morning.

At 7/18/2006 4:11 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

The scouts/jazz trainers sitting all around me couldn't stop raving about your boy NELSON. I think they even got in the trifecta of white compliments: Smart, Scrappy, and Unselfish.

He did look good though, and the crowd-love for him provided a proper cosmic balance to the unmasked contempt by the homecrowd for Araujo. The guy down the row was about to break a vessel in his head as he screamed at Ty Corbin to take Hafa out of the game.

At 7/18/2006 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn, Stoudemire looks so much like Shareef Abdur-Rahim it's SCARY!

At 7/18/2006 6:46 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

Since I have nothing to contribute to the interesting summer league post, let me point you to this: the complete video in two parts of the first slam dunk contest (ABA, 1976).

I had only seen David Thomson's 360 and of course Dr. J's free throw line dunk, but to see it completely was quite fascinating to me. The strange rules they came up with, Artis Gilmore masterfully laying the foundation for the curse of the big man in dunk contests... But what struck me the most was this strange atmosphere, this whole event seeming so ad-libbed, the 70's announcer, the contest picking up speed as the players seem to get a grip on what they're actually supposed to do, and all culminating when Dr. J measures his steps starting from the free throw line.

Anyway, here are the links:

Part 1:

Part 2:

At 7/18/2006 6:48 PM, Anonymous Kaifa said...

I forgot, I do have one thing to add to the post:

Free the old NBA game ball!

Sorry, I'm still bitter.

At 7/19/2006 9:32 AM, Blogger Sparkles*_* said...

I agree, the new ball looks terrible, especially in a non-promo photo.

Anyone know what the concensus amongst the players is?

At 7/19/2006 10:44 AM, Blogger NIKEY said...

that's robert swift in his best bill walton immitation ? where's the mountain mam look beard , robert ?

At 7/19/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Pichi Campana Aguanta said...

Sparkles, that's a good question, I'll try to ask some players tonight what they think.

At 7/19/2006 7:58 PM, Anonymous Fringe Sports Center said...

God, I love the summer leagues. So much random basketball - it's the greatest collection of crap-by-talent this side of a 1-16 NCAA matchup. Fringe Sports Central is slowly reviewing them in general, starting with the Vegas League:


At 7/19/2006 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having grown up in, or at least having been a political prisoner in Utah for several years, I can testify to the odd righteousness of Mormon Church ball. As a slow 6'2" white guy, I was the natural starting center, and a freakish oddity as someone who both couldn't shoot a 3 and attempted to rebound.

Many times I have endeavored to explain or justify the Mormon church to outsiders, having returned to SoCal, with a reference to architecture. While other, lesser churches have some lame chapel as the center of the church building, Mormon wardhouses have a basketball court as the physical, and moral center. The wardhouse is literally a gym surronded by church shit. This is the source of their strength and the reason why Mormonism is the religion of the 21st century.

At 7/19/2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous spider said...

What could be more Freedarko than Nash's comments here?

At 7/20/2006 12:57 AM, Blogger Captain Caveman said...

The next person to compare the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints favorably to FreeDarko gets his ass kicked free of charge.

Having gone to high school with many many Mormons, I know them to be some of the most upstanding people on the planet... the most upstanding, and LEAST FreeDarko -- regardless of their skills on the court.

At 7/20/2006 4:13 AM, Anonymous Mr. Six said...

LDS = religion of the 21st century?

Hurry up, eschaton.

At 7/20/2006 12:14 PM, Blogger T. said...

How about the Team USA roster for the World Championships - aside from the obvious lack of Euros, it's pretty freedarko:

Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
Gilbert Arenas, Wizards
Shane Battier, Rockets
Chris Bosh, Raptors
Bruce Bowen, Spurs
Elton Brand, Clippers
Kirk Hinrich, Bulls
Dwight Howard, Magic
LeBron James, Cavs
Antawn Jamison, Wizards
Joe Johnson, Hawks
Shawn Marion, Suns
Brad Miller, Kings
Adam Morrison, Bobcats
Chris Paul, Hornets
Luke Ridnour, Sonics
Amare Stoudemire, Suns
Dwyane Wade, Heat

Well, except for Dwyane. Aside from Dwight Howard and Brad Miller - we don't really have a lot of size. Is this a Suns team?


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