Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2017

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

Ray Brewer:

Summer league has plenty of attractive options, especially off the court

The lyrics from Will Smith's late-1980s hit "Summertime" helps describe the scene inside the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion during the NBA Summer League.

As Smith rapped, "Cause basketball courts in the summer have girls there."

Players on the Chicago Bulls' can confirm that.

Chicago enjoyed a comfortable 63-37 fourth-quarter lead Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers — yes, the Clippers are that bad — when two women walking past the Bulls' bench caught the eye of the players.

The scene was comical.

The women, dressed in high-heels, tight jeans and revealing tank tops, looked more like they were walking into a nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip than a sporting event. Make no doubt about it, the ladies were attractive, an observation the players quickly made to each other as their heads turned away from watching the action on the court.

Whether you classify the girls as groupies, eye-candy or diehard basketball fans, one thing has become glaringly obvious: they are camped out in huge numbers for the NBA's annual 10-day stay in Las Vegas.

Here are some other observations from the summer league, which runs through Sunday.

Tomorrow's future stars in action

Fans are quickly realizing why the Washington Wizards made John Wall the top pick in last month's draft. As the standing-room crowd for his first two games at the Cox Pavilion can attest, Wall is a superior talent and superstar in the making.

There is a certain electricity in the gym when he dribbles the ball from one end of the court to the next. It's the same energy that was in the arena when Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City debuted in Las Vegas four years ago.

Wall obviously is the main attraction in this year's crop of players, but others have been equally impressive. Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, Wall's teammate last year at Kentucky, has tallied double figures in points and rebounds in his initial three games.

Too many whistles

The players, who are primarily rookies and undrafted free agents, aren't the lone ones using the league as a chance to showcase their skills for a spot in the NBA.

The referees calling the games also are looking for that promotion. And, like most of the players in the 23-team event, the quest for perfection has come with plenty of trials and tribulation.

The officials are calling too many fouls, a likely result of attempting to master the profession and make an impression by correctly calling everything. However, the constant whistle blowing ruins the pace of the game and makes the players hesitant in their approach.

There were 73 fouls called Wednesday in the Houston Rockets' 82-75 victory against the Denver Nuggets and 69 fouls called in the San Antonio Spurs' five-point win against the Atlanta Hawks.

In comparison, in the seven-game NBA Finals Series two months ago between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, an average of 44 fouls per game were called. Also, summer league games are 10 minutes shorter than regular-season games.

An abundance of fouls is a staple of the summer league each year — hence why each player can receive 10 fouls, not the regular-season six personals, before being disqualified.

Everyone has a memory

One of the best parts of the event is how local children are getting an opportunity to participate in the halftime shows.

There has been everything from short scrimmages between youth basketball teams to gymnastic clubs performing tumbling routines. It's refreshing to see officials reach out to the community and invite our children to participate.

Also, several youth organizations and summer camp groups have filled the bleachers as spectators. A parks-and-recreation group of at least 50 children Tuesday decided to cheer for the Denver Nuggets in a blowout win against Chicago.

Denver was ahead by 20 points late and they still were cheering as if the game was close.

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