Chris Reichert is a basketball blogger who writes about almost anything related to the sport. You can find him on Twitter @Chris_Reichert and you can find his work at: HoopsHabit.com, RidiculousUpside.com (on SB Nation!) and Crabdribbles.com.
The Seattle Pro Am (sometimes referred to as the Jamal Crawford Pro Am) has been gaining popularity over the last couple of summers. This summer the league started with a formal media day for the first time in the event's history and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.
Jamal Crawford was, of course, the guy everyone wanted to hear from and he made it known that this event is for the fans. When asked why he continues to come back and play (and finance) the event Crawford said:
"I want to continue to keep hope alive that the city of Seattle will get an NBA team again. It's all about the community for me and to give these fans a chance to see NBA talent for only $5 is a thrill for me and everyone involved in the Pro Am."
The games are all on Saturday and Sunday each weekend from July 5 - August 31st and kids 17 and under, along with military personnel, are free - everyone else pays only $5 and you can stay for all three games! The Pro Am features NBA stars like Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Tony Wroten Jr., Spencer Hawes and Isaiah Thomas and during the media event Crawford was able to let us know other confirmed NBA stars who will be showing up throughout the summer.
"I can confirm some of the guys who will be coming this season - Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, John Wall, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, Harrison Barnes and James Harden. There will be more but I'll leave those as surprises for you guys and the fans."
First Weekend Action
Tony Wroten and his team the Uber Eagles started the weekend off in exciting fashion as Wroten put on a show for the fans scoring 52 points and even making ESPN's Top Ten with an amazing move.
The team that surprised everyone - except themselves - were the Pop Chips Pilots from Portland, Oregon. For the first time in the Pro Am's history there is a team from another city and this rivalry runs deep as the two cities have been battling via the "I-5 Challenge" for the last couple of years. The Pilots came in and won both games this past weekend and even beat Jamal Crawford's DRG Wolverines.
One an individual level the surprise of the weekend for me was Mike James of the Pilots. James is originally from Portland and played last season professionally over in Italy. James is 23-years old and really put on a show for the Seattle crowd and he even scored 37 points on the namesake Jamal Crawford himself (Crawford had 30 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists that game). Below is the impressive video of Mike James on day one.
The majority of the players here are NCAA Division I alumni all the way down to local community colleges, however there is also a high school player to be found here or there. Some of you might know the name Dejounte Murray - who is widely considered the top high school player in Washington State - and he was quite impressive as a 17-year old playing against grown men and professionals. Murray and his team at Rainier Beach have won three straight state championships and will be going for an unprecedented four-peat in his senior season.
I was able to talk with him before he played in the opening game alongside Tony Wroten and here's what he had to say about the experience.
"I'm excited to play with the great talent that will be here and it truly is a blessing to get to play in the Pro Am. I'm looking forward to getting better playing against grown men and I think I'll be ready for the challenge. "
Murray and his team the Uber Eagles are 1-1 after the opening weekend and again Murray showed such poise, athleticism, great basketball IQ and such a smooth stroke for a kid playing in this league. He averaged 22.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists and while stats are inflated in leagues like this, the point is that Murray can hang and the University of Washington fans should start getting excited, like NOW.
Points Rebounds Assists
Tony Wroten - 48.0 Seamus Boxley - 22.0 Will Conroy - 11.5
Aaron Broussard - 39.0 Austin Bragg - 14.0 Jamal Crawford - 10.0
Alvin Snow - 35.0 Kevin Ford - 12.0 Donald Watts - 10.0
Mike James - 32.0 Will Conroy - 12.0 Antwan Williams - 7.0
Will Conroy - 31.5 Chris Sprinker - 12.0 Carlos Singer - 7.0
Look for more Seattle Pro Am updates as the summer continues. There are going to be some huge names and great competition up in the Pacific Northwest and it's great for those fans who are so faithful and cannot wait to get an NBA franchise yet again.