On October 15, 2011, Washington D.C. was the site for a NBA Lockout exhibition game between professional players from the nation’s capital and Philadelphia, PA. The CSL’s own Clifton Mitchell (Class of 2012) interned with the organization who put on the event, and catalogued his experiences below:
Dubbed as Chocolate City vs. the City of Brotherly Love, this game was one for bragging rights filled with pre-game trash talk between players and fans from both cities. The D.C. Team was led by Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), John Wall (Washington Wizards), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Sam Young (Memphis Grizzlies), Jeff Green (Boston Celtics), Nolan Smith (Portland Trailblazers), and Jarrett Jack (New Orleans Hornets). The Philly Team featured Lou Williams (Philadelphia 76ers), Hakim Warrick (Phoenix Suns), Kyle Lowry (Houston Rockets), Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings), Ronald “Flip” Murray (Turkey), and Dionte Christmas (Greece). Held at Calvin Coolidge High School in the northwest section of the city, the gym was packed with over 2,000 people in attendance. There was a large group of fans from the Philadelphia area as well as hundreds of young basketball players from local high schools and colleges. It was evident that both the public and media were starving for real basketball action as TNT’s David Aldridge and the Washington Post’s Ivan Carter were spotted in the crowd. Even the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen and former Cleveland Cavalier, Delonte West stopped by to check out the game.
The game began with a long jump shot from Kevin Durant that sent the D.C. fans into frenzy; Durant has definitely become a local legend amongst the city’s historic basketball scene. As the first quarter moved along it was plain to see that the Philadelphia team were focused and wasn’t taking this game lightly; all week there had been discussion on which city produced the best ball players. With 4 minutes left in the first quarter Team Philly was up by 10 after a 3 pointer by Christmas; by this point they were in full control. The D.C. Team seemed to lack enthusiasm, but out of nowhere came John Wall rushing out of the locker room to check in. Wall flew in straight from Kentucky; the night before he participated in his former school’s Midnight Madness activities. As soon as Wall entered the game he went to work scoring on a couple of lay-ups, however, Williams, Lowry, and Thompson continued to score in a variety of ways for Philadelphia. At the 9:36 mark of the second quarter Jeff Green converted on a lay-up and was fouled; He hit the free throw which made the score 55-34. Sam Young chipped in and nailed a three pointer, and Durant followed up with a dunk to cut the lead to 57-39. Later, in the second quarter Team Philly was up by nine with 1 minute to go in the half 80-71, but Durant, Cousins, and Wall started to take charge. At half time the score was 85-75 Team Philly.
The second half pace really picked up in the third quarter and the game became really competitive. The stars of the game were Lou Williams, Kevin Durant, and John Wall. The local team got a lift from former Duke standout Nolan Smith as he hit a three pointer to make it a five point ball game. Then Team Philly hits the back end of two free throws to make it 92-86. Mardy Collins came along and hit a two point field goal and put Philly up 98-90. With 6:16 left in the 3rd Smith started a fast break and Durant finished the play, he was fouled and he hit the free throw at this point the score was 101-96; everyone was standing in their seats as the action heated up! Lou Williams and Hakim Warrick both had some exciting two-handed dunks that made the Philly faithful stand up and cheer. Team Philly still had the lead in the game but it was slipping they were up at one point in the 3rd 108-99. Kevin Durant brought life back to the DC crowd by hitting a three and then by scoring three free throws after getting fouled in a three point attempt. Lou Williams would not let DC take the lead; his dunk made it 110-108.
The fourth quarter was like an old NBA playoff duel between Durant and Williams. Durant would finish the night with 56 points and Williams finished with 55 points. John Wall had 38 points and DeMarcus Cousins had 20 rebounds. In the 4th DC took the lead at 123-121 behind Durant’s hot hand, Cousins’ rebounding, and Wall’s fast break layups. Lou Williams connected on several jump shots and three pointers in the quarter that eventually sealed the victory for his team and he wrapped up game MVP honors. Team Philly outlasted Team D.C. 172-169.
Speaking of his experiences organizing the game, Clifton Mitchell commented, “This was a wonderful internship experience. I was able to implement many of the principles I’ve learned during my studies within the Sport Leadership Program. I assisted the event staff with game setup, event promotions, and the social media campaign. Unlike many professional basketball summer league games or exhibitions I’ve attended, this particular game felt like an actual NBA affair because of the pre-game build-up, advertisement, intensity of the crowd, and exceptional play by of the players.”
Written by: Clifton Mitchell, CSL Class of 2012