Long before the NBA’s marketing juggernaut placed it’s time, money and television network fully behind the Orlando Pro Summer League and the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, the only time a hoop head like me got to watch his favorite pro ballers in the off-season was on the rare occasion where one of them would drop in for a run at the local summer Pro Am.
Back in the day, tales of appearances by NBA players at the Drew League, Rucker Park, the Goodman League (a.k.a. Barry Farms), Seattle Pro Am, North Carolina Pro Am, etc., were passed on by word of mouth. In the 90′s and early 2000′s grainy mixtapes preserved the efforts of guys from the League at “playground” games against eager local cats. In the era of the iPhone and Go Pros, Youtube is now filled with crisp, clean HD video of these summer basketball sightings.
After the jump I pulled together a few of my favorite legends of summer basketball that involve former or current players from Philadunkia’s home team.
In no particular order, here are my favorite summer legends that involved players who wear or once wore the red, white and blue for the 76ers. I have provided video evidence when available.
Summer of ’95 – Allen Iverson at Hampton Roads Pro Am: Wayne Hoffler the long time director of the premiere summer run in the Tidewater area of Virginia was looking for a stunt to promote his fledgling league and 76er great Allen Iverson was Hoffler’s answer. Other NBA players had made appearances at Hampton Roads, but the former Bethel (VA) high school star was the most famous baller this area had ever produced — bar none.
The details are somewhat cloudy on how Hoffler got Allen on board, but eventually Iverson agreed to play in a Hampton Roads game. He took the court one night in June 1995 and unleashed a 71 points scoring bonanza that left witnesses speechless. Unfortunately “Bubbachuck’s” epic night wasn’t enough to save A & G Imports as they lost to Central Fidelity, 165-146. “The Answer” would also post an 81 point game during the first week of August that summer. Needless to say Hoffler achieved the publicity he sought for the Hampton Roads league.
Summer of ’71 — Dr. J at Rucker Park Tournament: In 1971 Julius Erving wasn’t even a 76er yet; he wasn’t widely known as “The Doctor” and I wasn’t born yet, but Erving is a 76er legend and thus his frequent appearances at that the daddy of all summer leagues had to make my list. Julius played in a number of games for the the Westsiders team up at the Rucker and his jaw dropping feats have been documented in a number of books and films. It was also at the Rucker that Julius was officially christened “The Doctor” — nicknames like “The Claw” and “Black Moses” were slapped on Erving by Rucker MC’s before he insisted on “The Doctor” a nickname a childhood friend gave him.
History has it that the most memorable effort by Dr. J at the Rucker was a game vs. the Milbank squad that was led by local basketball god Joe “The Destroyer” Hammond. Hammond never played high school or college ball, yet was selected in the 1971 NBA Draft by the Lakers. I am sure my words can not do this game justice, but according to those who witnessed the monumental contest, it was a back and forth affair filled with trash talking, eye popping basketball plays and incredible dunks. Depending on what article you read or interview you watch, Doc hung 40-50 points on the board and Hammond, despite arriving late to the game, posted somewhere north of 30 points that night. The Westsiders won in triple OT.
Summer of ’14 — Tony Wroten at Seattle Pro Am: Since the 76ers made zero moves on the free agent market this summer and selected two prospects in the lottery portion of the NBA Draft that will not take the court for the team in 2014-15, Wroten’s opening night performance at the Seattle Pro Am this summer is the second biggest thing that happened to the Sixers this summer (Slight nod to winning the OPSL). Wroten, a Seattle native who attended basketball powerhouse Garfield HS and starred at UW, put on an unbelievable 53 point display back on July 5th. Using a variety of filthy dribble moves, Wroten scored at the rim whenever he wanted. He also drained a number of threes in the game.
Still, the play that set the Internet on fire (650,000 views) was the “Shamgod Crossover” Wroten used to clown a helpless defender on a secondary fast break. It was a simply ridiculous move by Wroten. Hopefully TWroe gets all of this “AAU” style ball (Brett Brown’s term, not mine) before training camp starts. Ohh yeah, Wroten’s team won, 124-121.
Summer of ’98 — Jerry Stackhouse at Entertainer’s Basketball Classic in Harlem: In his second season (1996-97) as the 76ers’ starting two guard, Jerry Stackhouse averaged 20 points and 4 boards a night, but those League stats don’t mean sh** up in Harlem. Stack shows up to the game late and strolls onto the court at halftime. #42 for the Sixers was clearly over confident and thought he could just show up, lace ‘em up and own the night.
Unfortunately for Stackhouse that’s not what happened. EBC legend Junie “General Electric” Sanders was playing for Ed Lover’s All-Stars that night and he thought Stack needed to be taught a a lesson. Sanders went at Stackhouse all night. He started him of with a few crossover that he converted at the rim. Sanders also banged home a few threes in Stack’s eye. He then started posting up Stack on a couple trips down the floor and using his fade away to score several buckets. A backdoor alley-oop or two later, “General Electric” had 35 points as well as the win, and Stack was leaving the park with a towel slung over his mug. In December of the 1997-98 season Stackhouse was traded to the Detroit Pistons.
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