Spurs’ James Anderson find solace at Impact Basketball

In the tiny Impact Basketball gymnasium, where a collection of NBA players have gathered to while away the league’s labor impasse with organized pickup games, there were no replays, or video screens or any other trappings of a real live professional basketball game. (via Jeff McDonald, Express-News)

San Antonio Spurs' James Anderson spends his time at Impact Basketball to hone his skills during the NBA lockout.

There weren’t even enough fans — just a couple dozen on this particular Wednesday afternoon — to constitute a crowd.

“This isn’t the NBA,” says Joe Abunassar, the Las Vegas-based trainer who dreamed up what has come to be informally known as “The Lockout League.” “But this is as close as these players are going to get for now.”

As the NBA’s summer of discontent stretches toward fall, jobless players have found a haphazard basketball oasis at Abunassar’s facility a stone’s throw from the famed Las Vegas strip.

By the time the two-week Impact Competitive Basketball series ends Friday, organizers say at least 75 NBA players will have participated, many of them Abunassar clients. Included on that list are Spurs guard James Anderson and rookie small forward Kawhi Leonard, the 15th pick in the June draft.

“Any time you can get a lot of guys like this together and get some good run in, it’s helpful,” Anderson said.

For players, the draw of Abunassar’s event was simple: Unlike the various pro-am leagues around the country, the Lockout League is open only to NBA players.

“There’s no other place they can go to play against 35, 50 NBA guys on a daily basis,” Abunassar said.

A former college assistant whose list of training clients has included All-Stars such as Chauncey Billups and Kevin Garnett, Abunassar didn’t set out to become a key figure in the NBA’s ongoing labor imbroglio.

It just sort of worked out that way.

What is happening this month at the Impact facility in Vegas is simply a super-sized version of what happens there every day. Players train in the morning, then play 5-on-5 games in the afternoon.

The NBA lockout just provided Abunassar with a deeper talent pool from which to fill out his post-lunch rosters.

“It’s the same concept we’ve been doing for 15 years,” he said. “Now we’ve just invited more people and made it kind of an event.”

In the court of public opinion, it’s difficult to say which side of the NBA’s labor dispute benefits most from the Lockout League.

Players can point to high turnout as evidence they just want to play, even if they have to pay their own way to Vegas to do so.

“We love playing the game,” said Washington guard John Wall, last season’s Rookie of the Year runner-up and one of the headliners at Impact. “It’s tough during the lockout, but we’re just trying to get better and work on our game.”

Read the complete article at San Antonio Express-News.

5 thoughts on “Spurs’ James Anderson find solace at Impact Basketball

  1. This will be good for the young players, especially the rookies, hopefully they are also playing good defense during the games. Good job by James Anderson.

  2. I heard that Kawhi Leonard played well in the Impact league also, and Anderson is shooting pretty well in the games, we will see if their hard work will payoff when the real NBA season starts.

  3. Pingback: Spurs' James Anderson find solace at Impact Basketball « Spurs World | | The Spurs StoreThe Spurs Store

  4. Hard work and dedication will payoff for sure, this better than nothing for the players especially for the rookies. At least, they get to play against some NBA talent.

    This will be good for Anderson and Leonard.

  5. Good to know that our guy’s are taking this lockout serious. Like I keep saying a short season and SAS would benefit much. A team like Memphis is going to need everybody available but won’t have them and will struggle this year if season is short. LAL are totally falling apart, but don’t count them out just yet. Rumors has it the Celtic’s just can’t wait for the start of the season, maybe thats one of the teams already wheeling and dealing illegally. Hmm eager beavers maybe just maybe Dwight Howard. Celtic’s retired Shaq and Rondo might just be traded. We still got a lot of dead weight at SF but this might just be good for a short season with our core.

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