Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Same building, different court and the loudest cheers for any game of the day. Former Rebel Anthony Marshall's NBA Summer League debut with the Miami Heat on Saturday was closer to the Mountain West tournament than a regular UNLV home game. It was all familiar yet a little off.
Take the uniform, for example. The Heat’s colors are only a few hues off from the Rebels’, but the difference is notable, especially when you factor in Marshall’s No. 57. It helps to show how far he has to go before he can once again choose his own number — likely the No. 3 he wore his entire collegiate career. But small things like that couldn’t possibly wipe off his postgame smile.
“Just having a jersey is an opportunity,” Marshall said Saturday night in the same tunnel he frequented before running out onto a red carpet.
The best way to get noticed at the Summer League is, obviously, to play great. Highlight plays and eye-popping stats have the same effect here as they do anywhere else.
Marshall’s seven points on 2-for-3 shooting didn’t really accomplish that. However, Marshall never looked overmatched on the court, and Miami’s run from a double-digit deficit to an 81-72 victory against the Toronto Raptors came after Marshall entered the game in the second half. He finished with a plus/minus of +26 in 19 minutes, meaning the Heat outscored the Raptors by that much while he was in the game.
Although he doesn’t deserve all the credit for that, it’s not a bad thing to be able to sell to a team. Any team.
“(This league) is like an interview,” said Marshall, who couldn’t work out for teams before the draft because of a leg injury. “You’re not only auditioning for one team but all the teams.”
Much like Cheyenne High grad Elijah Johnson, who’s playing with the Los Angeles Clippers, Marshall knows his chances of sticking with his current team are slim. Even if the Mojave High grad ends this week with an invite to the NBA Developmental League, it’s just as likely to come from another franchise as the Heat.
International scouts also are in attendance, but Marshall said he’ll leave that up to his agents at the Pensack Sports Management Group.
“We’re concentrating on the right now,” Marshall said.
Ben and Adam Pensack also represent former Colorado State big man Colton Iverson, with whom Marshall spoke before signing with the brothers. He said he feels they’ll work hard for him, just as he’ll work hard for himself in Miami’s games.
On Sunday, the combo guard moved into the starting lineup and struggled, committing eight turnovers with no assists. He also scored 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting and grabbed two rebounds in 22 minutes.
It’s a setback, sure, but Marshall’s first Summer League experience is more about the long-term possibilities than the ups and downs of his games, which continue at 1 p.m. Tuesday against Shabazz Muhammad and the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Cox Pavilion. When he’s on the bench, Marshall sidles up to the Heat coaching staff to soak up as much information as possible. On the court, he talks to the refs about how their judgment of the game differs from what he’s seen at the collegiate level.
Marshall said he lesson he’s learned is to slow down and let things come to him. The adjustment is going to be difficult enough without Marshall getting in his own way, as he may have done in the second half Sunday.
Like most players who fill out the 22 rosters that will begin tournament play Wednesday, Marshall has an uncertain future. All he can do is hope the right people see his potential and give him a chance to play this year.
Whether it happens or not, Marshall has a story that will last a lifetime — about beginning this journey in front of some of the same people who witnessed his last one.
“This is something I can tell my kids and my grandkids about,” Marshall said.