Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, July 14, 2012 | 2 a.m.
- Boys are back in town for NBA Summer League at UNLV
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- James Harden took unique path to Team USA and the 2012 Olympics
- USA Basketball officials have exquisite menu to order from when making final roster decisions
- The stars of USA Basketball set to take over UNLV’s Mendenhall Center
- All Sports Coverage
The steady stream of fans into the Cox Pavilion on Friday afternoon for the 2012 debut of the NBA Summer League came from all walks of life.
Scouts looking at players. Family members in town to show support. Kids looking for autographs from what they’re sure will be the next NBA superstar. Los Angeles Lakers fans.
The latter group found more and more comrades as it got closer to the purple and gold’s game against the Golden State Warriors at 5 p.m., which ended in a 90-50 loss for LA. There’s little doubt that Vegas is Laker country, but what do you do if you want to catch some good games and don’t have an NBA team you root for?
UNLV fans may also fall into that category, as they don’t have any Rebels to cheer for this year. Former point guard Oscar Bellfield was on the Memphis Grizzlies’ roster, but he confirmed via text on Friday that it didn’t work out and he won’t be playing.
Have no fear, casual basketball fans. We’ve picked out a few games over the next three days with some players or matchups that make it worth braving the suddenly stormy weather to get up to Cox and the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Jimmer Show vs. The Lake Show, Saturday at 5 p.m., Cox
This one was a much easier sell before Friday night. Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette, who rose to fame with the help of then-assistant coach Dave Rice, is still a polarizing figure, and people will tune in no matter how he's playing.
After a rookie season he would like to forget, Jimmer is back in Las Vegas with the Sacramento Kings and looking to find the stroke that propelled him into prominence in the first place. But on Friday night, Jimmer shot 2-for-11 from the field, including 0-for-8 behind the arc. Add in the Lakers, who will be trying to get past that 40-point loss, and this one is worth seeing if only for the premature desperation that will surely liven up what can sometimes be a sterile environment.
Bradley Beal (just trust me), Saturday at 7 p.m., Cox
Washington Wizards rookie Beal, the third overall pick after one season at Florida, is very raw, but he’s something to see in person. His block into the stands on a 3-pointer may have been the best non-dunk play of the first day, and he’s got plenty more of those in him.
The Wizards are playing the Houston Rockets, who won their first game on Friday against Toronto. The Rockets feature a plethora of big-name rookies, first-round picks Jeremy Lamb (No. 12), Royce White (No. 16) and Terrence Jones (No. 18).
Findlay Prep’s Cory Joseph, Sunday at 5 p.m., Cox
Without any UNLV players on the rosters, the local mantle is picked up by guys like Joseph, who played two years at Findlay before going to the University of Texas and getting drafted in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs will play the Atlanta Hawks, who beat Beal’s Wizards by 20 on Friday afternoon. This one might have a thin crowd because of the game going on at virtually the same time next door.
The Youth Shall Rise, Sunday at 5:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack
If you haven’t seen this video, take a moment to watch it right now. There’s also this one (the good stuff starts at 0:23). That’s 2011 No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers doing whatever he wants on and off the court as a member of the USA Basketball Select Team.
Irving alone is worth checking out, but wait, there’s more. Findlay Prep grad Tristan Thompson and fourth overall pick this year Dion Waiters will provide support for Irving against the Charlotte Bobcats, who feature No. 2 overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Family Over Everything, Monday at 3:30 p.m., Thomas & Mack
The tragedy in Thomas Robinson’s life is well documented. Robinson, the fifth overall pick to the Sacramento Kings, lost two grandparents and his mom in the span of about a month during his sophomore year at the University of Kansas.
He got through it with the support system around him, particularly twin brothers Marcus and Markieff Morris, and their mother Angel. Now all three men are in the NBA, and Monday afternoon is the first time Robinson will play against one of his “brothers.”
That ought to be worth ducking out of work a little early. Regular tickets are on sale at UNLVtickets.com for $22.