It was the last Summer League game for the New Orleans Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves. The game is full of a lot of guys just trying to make the roster, some I haven’t even heard of. I am not on the couch watching the game on my nice TV. And that’s because the game is not even on TV. It is on ESPN3. Sure, I probably could have hooked my computer up to the TV and watched, but then this wouldn’t have been as interesting. So I sit here on my Google Chromebook, headphones in, watching an NBA Summer League game on a Friday night. And you know what? IT WAS AWESOME!
Russ Smith and the Pelicans squared off against Gorgui Dieng and the Timberwolves. Both guys played over 25 minutes in the 40 minute game, so there weren’t many times where neither was on the floor. For what it’s worth, the Timberwolves beat the Pelicans 97-78. Gorgui Dieng finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Russ Smith finished with 21 points and 3 assists.
The highlight of the night was clearly when Russ tried to dunk OVER Gorgui. The big man was having none of it, and gave him the “No no no. Not today!” Or I at least imagined it happening that way.
It was one of those moments where you just almost saw something crazy happen, and you just don’t know how to feel. Are you disappointed because Russ didn’t throw the dunk down? Are you happy because Gorgui got the block? Are you happy for Gorgui because he wasn’t a victim of being dunked on by little Russ Smith? I mean, that would have been embarrassing, right?
There were other awesome/weird moments in the game. With Russ handling the ball, he went off of a screen and the defense switched. Then you had Gorgui guarding Russ. Russ drove right to the basket but didn’t convert. There were multiple times where he drove into the lane and shot a floater rather than try to get a lay-up. You wonder if the big man in the middle had anything to do with that choice.
All in all, it was one of the more entertaining games I have seen recently. High quality basketball from the best in the world? Well not necessarily. But it was just great to see two of our own out there. A big guy who was hardly recruited, and a 2-star player who definitely didn’t have any big time offers. And there they were. Out there on the court on NBA rosters. Russ already has his contract, and you know Gorgui will be a key factor for the Timberwolves this year after the way he finished last season. Oh, and if Kevin Love gets traded? Look out, could be a monster season for the Gorgs.
I will take this time to say that I absolutely love the fact that we get guys that generally stay 3 and 4 years. We get a chance to know them. They grow as players and as people while they are here. And when they move on and we follow their career, it really means something. We were not just a quick pit-stop on their fast-track to the pros. The city of Louisville and the University of Louisville actually mean something to them. And the fans feel connected with the players because of this, because we get to witness how much they grow on and off the court.
Russ and Gorgui will forever be two of the most popular and fan-favorite players in UofL Basketball history. They are bonded together forever on a National Championship team. I don’t have a kid, but I can only imagine that watching those two during that game was like seeing your kids all grown up and doing what they love. They are on different teams now. Their careers have taken them to different organizations. But regardless of what the front of their jerseys say these days, they will always be Louisville Cardinals.