I didn’t get to attend the NBA Summer League this year and it made me quite sad. The Summer League is, as Bill Barnwell of Grantland noted today, “summer camp for basketball junkies.” If you love the game of basketball, getting the chance to see the college players that you followed over the years play in such an intimate setting is a great treat. This year’s version had seven former Cats compete in Vegas and Barnwell noted that part of the greatness of the event was watching the developing stardom of one Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
First, there’s the blessing of watching a player who is head and shoulders above everybody else on the court take over a game. You can see that on television, and it translates even better at an NBA game, but when it’s in front of a thousand people in a women’s basketball gym, it’s plain as day. Take Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s performance in the Bobcats-Kings game from the first night, a game that basically ended up serving as the quintessential example of the Tao of summer league for me. On a court with the likes of Kemba Walker and Thomas Robinson, themselves fellow college stars, it would seem unlikely that a versatile, subtle player like MKG would really dominate a game. Well, it happened, and it was beautiful. It felt like watching a pickup game where everyone on the court knows one guy is going to do just about whatever he wants whenever he wants … except with a group of NBA-caliber players watching a rookie during his first game in a pro jersey.
Barnwell is correct. Gilchrist is special and watching him dominate a game can be described as beautiful. The Summer League is a chance to separate the haves from the have nots, and if we didn’t know it before, we know it now. Kidd-Gilchrist is a have and one that Kentucky fans are going to be proud to watch blossom in the years to come.