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Thread: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

  1. #1
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    All this article does is list him as playing.


    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory...bk/bkn/3289555

    WHERE THE LEGENDS PLAY ON
    Fun and games
    Beyond the emcee, music and crowds, NBA pros and top amateurs put on a show at Fonde Recreation Center that's hard to beat
    By MICHAEL MURPHY
    Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle
    RESOURCES

    • Admission to all games at Fonde Recreation Center, which usually features a couple of NBA players along with college and other local talent, is free.
    • When: The league plays Monday and Wednesday nights, with games at 6, 7:15 and 8:30 p.m. The championship game is Aug. 17.
    • Where: 110 Sabine St. in Houston. Call 832-524-3100 or check out procityhouston.com for more information.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    THE PLACE TO BE SEEN

    It's opening night at the Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am at Fonde Recreation Center and Moochie Norris is feeling it. And the discerning fans, who demand nothing less than a player's best, are grooving right along with him.

    Norris — yeah, the same Moochie Norris who would need a pardon from the governor to get off the Rockets' bench — is in the flow, pulling up off the dribble for can't-miss 3-pointers, snaking through the lane for layups and dazzling the crowd — and defenders — with twitching, ankle-straining moves.

    There was a time when the only thing people noticed about Norris was his hair, which was a blown-out, teased, stretched-to-the-limit mushroom cloud that no headband could hope to contain.

    The hair is gone, and now fans are forced to take notice of Norris' game. On a night when NBA types like Nick Van Exel, Mike James, Damon Stoudamire, Jonathan Bender, James Posey and Ansu Sesay — along with local playground stars like Dwayne "The Legend" Rogers, Myron "The Show" Allen and Trey Moore — are sharing the court, Norris is easily the best player on the floor.

    At least on this night he is.

    Norris is like the classically trained musician who steals away to jam at a late-night jazz club for the opportunity to play in front of fans who truly understand his art.

    With each shot that rips the net, the emcee booms "Moooooochieeeeeee!" into his mic, and the appreciative — and apparently hard-to-please — fans start shouting for more. Norris obliges. When the night ends, he has made 14 of his 16 shots with one of those misses a three-quarters-court heave at the end of the third period. Norris leads the way with an effortless 28 points as his Fonde All-Stars crush Van Exel's Hustlers 104-86.

    Fonde's sweat-soaked humidity is nowhere near the antiseptic glitz of the Toyota Center, but Norris is happy with his performance.

    After all, as Moses Malone once said, "You ain't done it 'till you've done it at Fonde."

    This is what playing at Fonde is all about: breaking free and putting on a show.

    Norris has the fans pounding their hands together and stomping the simple wooden bleachers in amazement, pretty much the same way they did for Calvin Murphy and Robert Reid in the 1970s, Malone and Hakeem Olajuwon in the '80s and Kenny Smith and Vernon Maxwell in the '90s.

    "Freedom is the biggest thing here," Norris said. "We're playing more in a structured system during the season, but the thing about playing these street ballers in your free time is that you get to work on your individual skills and one-on-one moves.

    "That's great. But out here we all know that when the game is on the line, we're going to work it for a good shot as opposed to early in the game, when we're pulling everything out trying to get the crowd involved."

    The beauty of the Pro City scene is that players such as Rogers, who graduated from Kashmere 20 years ago, are given an opportunity to rub shoulders — and trade elbows — with established NBA players and even an occasional superstar.

    "When the pros come in here, I like to let them know that some of the best never made it to the league," said Rogers, who last year led the league in scoring and teamed with Van Exel to lead the Hustlers to the championship. "When they walk on this floor, my thing is that they put on their shoes just like I put on my shoes, so it's time to play."


    Survival and revival
    Just a few years ago Fonde basketball, at least at the Pro-Am level, was on the verge of dying.


    Grizzlies forward James Posey adds his autograph to the T-shirt of 12-year-old Bavante Songs.
    This is the chrysalis where Olajuwon became "The Dream," but by the late '90s most of the NBA players had pretty much abandoned the fabled courts in favor of the Westside Tennis Club, where the Rockets had a sparkling practice facility.

    But Pro City moved in three years ago and reorganized the Pro-Am, and their first order of business was putting the pros back on the court.

    "We kind of put our stamp on it," said Kevin Allen, who along with former TSU great Kevin Granger, runs the league. "We got out there and hit the pavement and got the (NBA players) back involved. And they like it — they like the crowd and the atmosphere. And we'd like to thank the people for coming out and supporting us because the crowd plays a big part.

    "But you've got (NBA players) calling their teammates and saying, 'Hey, the run in Houston is great, so come on down.' So you're having more and more NBA guys coming down. And what's good is that anything we ask, they're pretty good about helping us out a lot."

    Granger developed a love for the Pro-Am during his playing days of the mid-1990s, when his regular gig was as the nation's leading scorer (27 points per game in '96). He spent his down time playing in high-level pickup games at Fonde.

    Granger insists that playing at Fonde took his game to another level, and he now wants to provide the same atmosphere for Houston college players.

    The pros have turned out. Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley, Damon Jones, Rashard Lewis and Tierre Brown are playing, and Emeka Okafor, Steve Francis and Reggie Evans are scheduled to play.

    T.J. Ford, still rehabbing as he prepares to return to the NBA after spinal surgery, is getting his first taste of coaching.


    With all the interest Fonde has attracted, the next step may be to make it an NBA minor league.
    "The NBA guys have been great," Granger said. "We're thankful that through Nike's sponsorship that we're able to provide a league like this for the fans, the players and for the community in general.

    "It's big to have a young guy like (LSU's) Tack Minor (playing for DBG's), who's still in college and trying to get to the NBA. It's tremendously helpful for him to be able to go up against a guy like Damon Stoudamire one night, and then have to play Steve (Francis) the next night, and then Nick and then Sam.

    "For a guy to get that kind of competition, he really gets a chance to measure his skills and see what he needs to work on to get to that next level."


    Hoop dreaming
    While Fonde has turned out stars, its legacy lags behind other top summer leagues like New York's Rucker League, Philadelphia's Baker League and the Los Angeles Pro Summer League.

    But it's closing the gap, which is precisely the aim of Granger and Nike Pro City, which has turned Pro-Am ball into a franchise of sorts. Nike Pro City is now in nine NBA cities — Houston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Washington — and is always looking at bigger plans.

    Nike Pro City has juiced up the event, adding a pounding music beat and an emcee to the mix that celebrates the streets as much as it does the NBA.

    "The atmosphere they have there, with the music and everything, I think that makes kids want to play basketball because it's fun," said former NBA scout Kyle Manary, who now works with John Lucas. "That's what makes the game grow. It's just a different brand of basketball. Is it always great X's and O's? No. But sometimes you just have to take a step back and let guys work on expanding their games."

    And expanding the game is what Nike Pro City is hoping to do. Granger and Allen envision a time when Nike Pro City becomes a haven for European teams looking to get a taste of American ball. And they eventually hope it becomes legitimate summer minor league for the NBA.

    "I definitely think we can handle it," Granger said. "That's one of the directions we're looking to go, and I think we have the capability to make it happen."

    A shorter-term goal is getting the NBA types to come through the doors.

    "We have a standing invitation for Yao Ming, even though I know his summer schedule is pretty busy," Allen said. "I think we can find room on a roster for Yao. Really, I'd like to see some of the Rockets' brass come out here and maybe take a look at some of the players we have out here.

    "We're inviting (Rockets coach) Jeff Van Gundy and (general manager) Carroll Dawson to come on out. Who knows? Maybe they'll find a player or two here."

  2. #2
    Administrator Roaming Gnome's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Can't play in the summer league, eh?

    I bet he has to back up to take his paycheck from Donnie or Larry. I know that I couldn't look my employer in the eye if I were robbing them blind like he is!

  3. #3
    Pacer Junky Will Galen's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    I think Bender was less than enthused in playing in a game with rookies and free agents. And I think he's bought into all the hype and doesn't like it that he's not the superstar some people thought he would be. The fact that he's not he probably blames on the Pacers medical staff. In his eyes it couldn't be that he's just injury prone.

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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    I bet he gets hurt that *******. I have come to realize that this dude just doesnt care about playing in the NBA and helping the Pacers. He is going to collect his 7 million per year even if he doesnt play so he just doesnt care. **** him.

  5. #5
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Sounds like a game where Bender can run and jump aimlessly and take shots without worrying about the flow of the offense (or game for that matter). IOW... I bet there's no 'deer in the headlights' look for him... just another example of a player with no fundamental skills or apparent desire to gain them.

    Why play in the summer league where there are real coaches and an organized situation with people watching and tutoring you when you can go hop up and down with no goal but to score a few points instead?

    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

    -John Wooden

  6. #6
    Harmonica
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Will Galen
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    I think Bender was less than enthused in playing in a game with rookies and free agents. And I think he's bought into all the hype and doesn't like it that he's not the superstar some people thought he would be. The fact that he's not he probably blames on the Pacers medical staff. In his eyes it couldn't be that he's just injury prone.
    He can blame the Pacers medical staff all he wants, but most players have personal physicians as well, and at $7 million a year, Bender can afford the best.

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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    What a horrible thing. JB feels good so he plays a pick-up game. What is this world coming to? Basketball players playing basketball for the heck of it!? What a travesty!
    BLUE COLLAR GOLD SWAGGER

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    Banned Jermaniac's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by pizza guy
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    What a horrible thing. JB feels good so he plays a pick-up game. What is this world coming to? Basketball players playing basketball for the heck of it!? What a travesty!
    Why the hell does he never feel good to play for our team but he can always play and get hurt in pick up games?

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    flexible and robust SoupIsGood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am



    This guy is a joke. Get him off the team, he's just a distraction.
    You, Never? Did the Kenosha Kid?

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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    OK, as if I didn't already look foolish for sticking up for him once, I'll try it again.

    Maybe, he's actually going to be healthy and going to play. Maybe he's physically matured and he's going to be a player this season. I know, I know, "this year, you're gonna see it," has been said, but, who knows? Maybe we will.

    I hope.
    BLUE COLLAR GOLD SWAGGER

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  11. #11

    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    I'd rather Jon be playing ball somewhere this summer than sitting at home with ice packs on his knees playing video games.

  12. #12
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by sixthman
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    I'd rather Jon be playing ball somewhere this summer than sitting at home with ice packs on his knees playing video games.
    Yeah... but which is it..
    He can only play a couple of summer league games (which turned out to be one) because he needs to go easy on his injuries and make sure he is ready for training camp OR he's fine to play anywhere, anytime?

    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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    How are you here? Kegboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    In his defense, he did say he needed to rest for a couple weeks, not a couple months. It's been a couple weeks.
    Come to the Dark Side -- There's cookies!

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    Member Pacers#1Fan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    He can't play in the summer -league but he can play in a Pro-Am.

  15. #15
    Cheeseburger in Paradise Los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    A dollar says he hurts himself.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by sixthman
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    I'd rather Jon be playing ball somewhere this summer than sitting at home with ice packs on his knees playing video games.
    yea at least hes actually playing, which means he is close if not at 100%, we dont see that very often so it doesnt bother me a bit

  17. #17
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Kegboy
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    In his defense, he did say he needed to rest for a couple weeks, not a couple months. It's been a couple weeks.
    Glad to see you come to Bender's defense... Lord knows he can't play any defense himself...



    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

    -John Wooden

  18. #18

    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    I'd hate to see the reaction if he pulls out...

    PD reaction toJonathan Bender eating dinner:
    God knows he'll cut himself with a spoon...Hope the soups not too hot...Sure he can sit down for dinner but playing with rookies is beneath him?...For 7 million I bet he can offered to feed his family...We gave up Brad Miller for this guy?..I can stand the fact that he eats in New Orleans even Ron Artest eats in Indy...JB is the Cheesecake Factory of NBA players.

  19. #19
    Cheeseburger in Paradise Los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Los Angeles
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    A dollar says he hurts himself.
    I'm serious, YO!

    First taker on this gets a dollar if he stays healthy, and sends me a dollar if he hurts himself by participating in this event. BUT I require a one month delay for news about his health to come out after the pro/am.

    ANYONE?

    Beuhler?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Is he a pro or an am?
    Sorry, I didn't know advertising was illegal here. Someone call the cops!

  21. #21
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by TruWarier
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    Is he a pro or an am?
    He's an 'ain't'...

    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

    -John Wooden

  22. #22

    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Bball
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    Sounds like a game where Bender can run and jump aimlessly and take shots without worrying about the flow of the offense
    Good, he'll be in midseason form.

  23. #23
    How are you here? Kegboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcadian
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    JB is the Cheesecake Factory of NBA players.
    No, there's nothing about JB's game that says "value proposition".
    Come to the Dark Side -- There's cookies!

  24. #24

    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    I was thinking more of the lines of quantity over quality...I mean he's 7 feet tall!

  25. #25
    How are you here? Kegboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bender playing in Nike Pro City Houston Pro-Am

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcadian
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    I was thinking more of the lines of quantity over quality...I mean he's 7 feet tall!
    True. I was thinking along the lines of 7 games.
    Come to the Dark Side -- There's cookies!

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