MINNEAPOLIS It's been 18 years since two little boys on Andrews Air Force base began playing basketball together. It's been 18 years, AAU squad after AAU squad, colleges, five NBA teams, and now, improbably, those two little boys are about to face off yet again as pros.
There's no way to calculate the odds of Dante Cunningham and Ty Lawson's friendship. Sure, plenty of former college teammates meet up on the court in the NBA. Plenty of former AAU teammates, too. But teammates at age 7? One in a million doesn't sound outlandish.
When the two met, Cunningham had just returned to the United States after living with his parents in Germany. Ty, or Tywon, as Cunningham still sometimes calls him, played for the Andrews Magic, coached by his father, George Lawson, and Cunningham joined the team.
The Magic went 80-7 during the eight-year span the two played together, and pictures abound of the two future NBA players together in their child-sized uniforms. It still surprises Cunningham how much those photos surface when the two play each other. He laughs, and his eyes widen as he thinks back on the odds of two little boys' dreams coming true how they did.
Since the Magic, Lawson and Cunningham have shared so much. They played on rival AAU teams, Lawson for the D.C. Blue Devils (the same team as one Kevin Durant), Cunningham for the D.C. Assault, and then Lawson went to Bishop McNamara High School, Cunningham to St. John's College High School, both in Maryland. The two schools were in the same conference, which meant they played twice a year, and when the two boys headed to college, Cunningham to Villanova, Lawson to North Carolina, they couldn't have imagined what was in store. They met one time in a game, on April 4, 2009, just months before both would enter the NBA draft. It was the semifinals of the Final Four, and Lawson's Tar Heels won, 83-69, en route to a national championship.
And then they were drafted, Lawson 18th, Cunningham 33rd, and that's where the odds get crazy. Both boys, now men, had defied so much. Neither stopped growing. Neither was derailed by a flawed AAU system or coach. Neither got in trouble sufficient to derail his career. Everything fell into place, and now, they meet up again, Lawson and the Nuggets, Cunningham and the Timberwolves.
It kind of blows your mind to think about.
Still no Ricky: In case you missed it, point guard Ricky Rubio will not make his return Wednesday night against the Nuggets. Head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam announced the decision Wednesday morning. It seems unlikely that Rubio will debut on the road in New Orleans on Friday, so Saturday against Dallas seems a decent option.
Let the trades begin: No, not necessarily in Minnesota. But Dec. 15, this Saturday, marks the date on which players who signed offseason deals this year can be traded. There are some exceptions guys acquired in amnesty auctions, some players who resigned for bigger money due to salary-cap rules and restricted free agents whose team matched offers to keep them but for the most part, the trade market will open much wider in a matter of days.
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