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.