Basketball has been the main topic in the last week in the Thomas & Mack center at the 2018 NBA Summer League while relaxing and regenerating one´s body on an off day and at night are what the Fraport Skyliners players and other professional players have been focusing on, but another topic of interest not only there, but in the basketball world has been the two tragic deaths of ex UCLA players Tyler Honeycutt and Billy Knight only within a few days of each other. Just how often 2018 NBA draft picks Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsch of UCLA had to answer questions and give their feelings on the delicate topic is unknown, but it surely wasn´t a little. I was shocked and yelped No when I heard about the Tyler Honeycutt death on Saturday night and even if I didn´t personally know him had my own personal 40 minute connection with him that I will never forget dealing with him this past January when I was able to interview him before an Euroleague game in Bamberg. My memory of him were still quite present simply because it wasn´t so long ago and just his open friendliness and warm personality made my one on one chat with him very memorable. His death makes no sense, because his basketball future was bright as he had an offer from a top Euroleague team and from an NBA team to be the back up to one of the best power forwards in the league. I was almost shocked again when I learned about the Billy Knight death, because I thought at first that I had another connection to him even if it was a very distant one and only something through stories, but was relieved when I learned that it was a different Billy Knight. Back in the 80´s, the NBA enjoyed the play of Billy Knight who played at Pittsburgh and was born in 1952 and became a legend as an Indiana Pacer finishing his career as the third leading scorer. The minimal connection I had to him was through my third grade music teacher Mr Johnson who roomed with him and told us kids bet entertaining stories between learning how to play the recorder in the music room about the exceptional player who once averaged 28ppg in the now defunct ABA league. The Billy Knight who posted a chilling you tube video shortly before committing suicide was born in 1979 and played at UCLA and enjoyed a 14 year professional career overseas and played mostly in France and Japan. Both Honeycutt and Knight had very severe issues with themselves in their lives and just didn´t come to terms how to cope with them. These two deaths are very tragic and makes one wonder again and again in so many other cases as well why nothing is being made to change gun laws. “It is sad that the Honeycutt,and Knight family members lost a person they love dearly.I lost my nephew to gun violence,and to be honest,that pain never goes away. I just deal with I and when I get low, I pick up a basketball,and try to shoot the pain away. The same way I´m sure that Tyler Honeycutt,and Billy Knight did. .With that said,as a proud American who loves guns,and as much as I hate to say this,the time has come to change our gun laws. I sure don´t have a solution but since I´m a dumb jock I guess that´s not my job. We can´t blame UCLA for these two great basketball player´s being gone. I hope that the NCAA can use the death of these two great athletes to dig even deeper when it come´s to a mental health issue substance abuse issue,or what ever else it may be to get athlete´s help. Not just for the year´s that a basketball player is eligible, but for the rest of their lives”, stated Joe Asberry who balled in Europe in the 90s and now is helping young Americans make a better transition to overseas life.
Back to the court in Las Vegas, the Fraport Skyliners had one player in action with Philip Scrubb while another German player Isaiah Hartenstein was also in action. Scrubb dueled against the Los Angeles Clippers losing 89-74 as the Washington Wizards fell to 1-3 and the shooting slump and 2018 NBA Summer League calamity continues for Scrubb as he continues to be pointless as he missed two shots and his current shooting misery is at 0/14. The Canadian shooting sensation was in the starting lineup, but was unable to profit from it. He played 13 minutes, but besides attempting two shots and getting two fouls couldn´t muster anything else on the stat sheet. The Wizards were led by Devin Robinson who had a monster game netting 26 points and hauling down 11 boards. On the othe rside, Scrubb witnessed the scoring explosion of Reggie Upshaw who totaled 24 points, nine rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes. Upshaw had a very strong rookie season in Germany in the BBL last season with the Walter Tigers Tuebingen (Germany-BBL) playing 33 games averaging 14.4ppg, Reb-4(6.6rpg), 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 53.6%, 3PT: 39.1%, FT: 64.4%. The Fraport Skyliners won both games against Tuebingen once by 27 points and the other by 12 points, but that wasn´t too difficult as they won only one game all season long moving down to the Pro A. Both meetings against Frankfurt happened within a month and that was the period where Scrubb was injurds and couldn´t meet Upshaw on the court. Scrubb gets his next chance on Friday when he meets the Dallas Mavericks. Isaiah Hartenstein was also in action as he helped the Houston Rockets beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-102 as the Texas squad moved to 4-0. The Rockets offense was phenomenal as they were sharing the ball as if Chris Paul and James Harden were secretly on the court as seven players scored in double figures led by Danuel House who played 23 games with the Phoenix Suns last season scored 18 points and grabbed 8 boards while ex USC(NCAA) guard De´anthony Melton steered 17 points as did Chinese big man Zhou Qi had 17 points and 7 rebounds. The German Hartenstein played another solid game scoring 10 points, getting five rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 18 minutes. Hartenstein was his usual aggressive self in the paint getting presented easy buckets on a silver platter from Daniel House while finishing the pick and roll nicely as well. He also was present on the defensive end making some big plays and using his physicality and long arms to his advantage. The German has been consistent and holding his own, but it will be interesting to see what the Rockets do with their roster. Will they keep Qi and Hartenstein or will one have to go to the G-League. If Houston has to choose only one, then Hartenstein could be the odd man out effected by the numbers game as the Chinese big man is two years older and a bit higher on the seniority list and he has played just as well as the German if not better this summer, but the Rockets continue to be very high on Hartenstein. The German would seem like the clear more logical back up to Clint Cappela, because he is that dominant finisher which Qi isn´t. It will be a tough decision. Hartenstein now has two days off and next battles on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliars.
Thursday had 10 games on slate with three Fraport Skyliners in action with Shavon Shields, Tai Webster and Isaac Bonga. The duel between the ex Nebraska(NCAA) standouts Shields and Webster didn´t happen, because Shields who has had a stellar NBA Summer League in Las Vegas didn´t play in order to let some other guys on the roster get some time to display their abilities. Fans saw a real tight second half as the Miami Heat pulled out a 110-106 victory. Miami had five guys score in double figures led by veteran Jarrod Jones who has played in Europe for years and last played with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-BSL) led all scorers with 31 points. Tai Webster was once again in the shadow of Derrick Walton Jr who had another stellar outing of 15 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three steals in 20 minutes while Webster played 13 minutes getting two points, two rebounds and a dime. Webster showed just too little on the stat sheet for any serious NBA drooling to occur from teams, but give him 30 minutes and he would have turned NBA executives heads. But there are just too much talent in vegas and too little spots or minutes for all to dazzle.. Ex Tuebingen player Garlon Green an dbrother of NBA leaper Gerald Green had another fine showing demonstrating effectiveness scoring 14 points in 18 minutes on 5/7 shooting. The last Skyliner on the Thursday night bill was Isaac Bonga who has shown flashes of brilliance in the first three games, but also moments of sheer inexperience at the NBA level, but at age 18, he is still the youngest in the competition, but still turning heads daily with his flashes of basketball talent. Bonga and the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the Los Angeles Clippers winning 82-69 and raising their record to a perfect 4-0. As usual Josh Hart was hot scoring 20 points and taking the brunt of the Lakers shot´s with 16 and shooting 43% from the field. While 2018 Lakers second round pick Svi Mykhailiuk had another top performance with 15 points and is feeling comfortable in Miles Simon´s offensive system and Jeff Ayres added 10 points and six rebounds. Second round pick Isaac Bonga didn´t have the minutes to really be able to impress or fill the stat sheet as he logged only five minutes while netting two points and securing a rebound. Even if he only played five minutes, he was able to shave his turnovers down again to only two. Moritz Wagner was idle again on account of his knee injury.