Summer league at its best

Jerome Dyson (#11) going for a slam.
Photos by Lem Peterkin
Photo by Lem Peterkin

All eyes were on Smush Parker, a former cager with numerous teams in the National Basketball Association. He had his run and as of now is probably sticking with going overseas.

As a teenager and even afterwards, Parker was more noted for his playing in ‘outside’ leagues than in high school. But he tried to do the best that he could while at Washington Irving in Manhattan and then at Newtown in Elmhurst both members of the public schools system.

He advanced onto Southern Idaho Junior College and then blossomed out when he entered Fordham University. Grades and academics were always a problem, but not his basketball ability.

The much traveled Parker played with Cleveland, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Phoenix, and both Los Angeles franchises-the Lakers and Clippers. He also went overseas and played in Russia, Greece, China, and Venezuela.

“It’s difficult to get acclimated…to be able to play in the NBA,” said Parker.

He had ‘it’ playing with so many teams in the National Basketball Association. But he continued with his playing and recently completed his summer with a team called the X-Men in the Nike Summer League with all games conducted at Baruch College in mid-town Manhattan.

Parker scored 18 points, grabbed four rebounds, and assisted six times in 33 minutes during a 123-106 victory over Queensbridge last week.

“I joined this league to stay in shape and to keep sharp my skills,” the 31-year-old Parker recently added.

While competing in his younger days he was well known and people came to the games just to see him and his teammates in action. He was also well known on the court in his short stay at Fordham University.

Parker has been playing in this Nike League for the past 10 summers, which included at Hunter College prior to Baruch.

“This league has been my workout during the summer time,” he went on. “After I did my individual workouts, this is where I tested out my progress. I played in the NBA for six years.”

Parker does not have any aspirations of going back to the NBA. Now he is content to playing overseas.

The purpose of the Nike League is to keep players in shape during the off season.

This league drew eight teams consisting of former high school and college players, current and former NBA players, and players who had experience overseas-all mixed together on the same team. At times crowds of spectators came to the games. Most of the players in the Nike Leagues had seen action overseas and will continue to do so. Some players are still being looked at.

The personnel at Baruch College were indeed pleased to host such a league.

“It’s an honor to host this type of event for it brings the basketball community ‘out’ to enjoy all the games and all the wonderful players that grace our school here,” said a spokesman from Baruch College, Jose Torres, the event coordinator for the college. “It’s a great venue for it and it’s getting much publicity that is well deserved. We hope we can continue it. This is our third year of hosting the league.”

Besides Parker competing in the circuit, on the same night it drew such players as Zamal Nixon, Jamel Lynch, Mike Haynes, Halil Kanacevic, Tom Eddie, Mike Campbell, Jeremy Hazell, Alexis Foyle, Kyle Hunt, JC Mathis, and Ryan Williams in the first game, and Gary Ervin, Gary Forbes, Omar Cook, Rashad Bell, Justin Burell, Keydren Clark, Darren Phillips, Mike Glover, Jerome Dyson and Ater Majok.

In fact, Baruch College has been hosting three divisions of the Nike League-Nike Swiss, Nike Pro City, and Fireball,

“We are hoping that we can host this league for many years to come,” said Torres.

One game that certainly drew the crowd came last year when the league drew Kevin Durrant and John Lucas III. They really put on a show. Durrant is one of the top players in the National Basketball Association.

The circuit also drew Jim Couch, who coached many years ago in the Pro Am League when it was conducted by the late Cecil Watkins and his staff. He just wanted to stay in the game and watch some great action. He is now retired.

“When I coached, I coached in the summer leagues,” said Couch, before action began during the last week of the regular season. “I coached NBA players – Mark Jackson, Kenny Smith, Walter Berry, Ken Bannister and Shelton Jones…(and the list goes on). I even coached Kareem Abdul Jabbar when he was 13 years old.

“When the Pro Am League was run, the league had so many NBA players every summer. All the guys stayed ‘home,’ playing in the Pro Am League.”

This Nike League that was recently concluded with summer competition is just fantastic. The directors would like more people to come out and catch the action. And the facilities are just tremendous here at Baruch College.

Keybren Clark (#3) takes a short jump.
Photo by Lem Peterkin

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