ORLANDO — There is no glamor in this.
The Orlando Summer Pro League is the player’s equivalent of a physical exam. It’s sterile. Clinical. Sometimes, it’s uncomfortable.
A few dozen young men, many of whom just met, assemble at what must feel like an ungodly hour to perform for the assembled coaches, executives, scouts, agents, and media. For many, it’s a first taste of life as a pro. For some, it’s another in a line of chances to prove they are worthy of an invitation to training camp. For a few, it’s a mandated appearance to hone a skill, or work on something new.
The players are fully exposed on the court. Every squeak of sneakers, every slap of a foul, every curse after a missed shot is heard quite plainly by just about everyone. With no more than three rows of seating surrounding the court, expressions are clearly visible, even winces from coaches who clearly expected something different from a play.
Yes, the environment during these games can be unforgiving.
But most of these guys love it.
‘I’m really having fun out there and having fun with my team,’ said first-round pick (and summer league star) Kelly Olynyk. ‘It’s a great group of guys, a great group of coaches, very encouraging.’
Strip away all the ancillary stuff like crowds and a PA announcer, and what these guys have been doing out there all week is simply playing basketball. For the purists who want to hear and see every little bit of detail, this is a little slice of bliss.
‘It’s been great,’ new C’s coach Brad Stevens told me this week. ‘I’ve been able to get to the gym and sit, and listen, and talk, and evaluate and then I can go back to my room and work. So it’s been a great balance.’