With the NBA Rookie Photo Shoot taking place at the Knicks’ practice facility today, all of the rookies were in town for the festivities. So what happens when a bunch of 20 something year-olds have nothing to do on a Monday night? A video game tournament transpires. And luckily for them, EA Sports was in the house to hold them down.
After much deliberation, the eight-person bracket was filled out, and Dime was the only media outlet in the room (let alone a 30-mile radius) to watch it all go down. While one flatscreen had guys playing the new NBA Elite 11, the other one for the tourney was all about NBA JAM. Read on to see what happened.
While some guys had to sign trading cards, the room was still packed with talent. Greg Monroe, Ed Davis, Da’Sean Butler, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Evan Turner, Quincy Pondexter, Paul George, Elliot Williams, Patrick Patterson, Terrico White and Lance Stephenson all sat around playing the games and talking trash.
I’d seen a couple of these guys play the game before when I was at the cover unveiling with Kevin Durant earlier in the summer, and others had played in a suite during their stay in New York City for the NBA Draft. But unlike Madden NFL 11 which just dropped, none of these guys had either game back home at their crib. And with the new controls, the playing field seemed pretty even. Well, at least that’s what we thought.
And for those of you wondering, this tournament was for much more than just bragging rights. The winner also got to take home an Xbox 360 with a slew of games, as well as the new myTouch 3G Slide Android Phone from T-Mobile. And with legendary emcee D-Stroy on the mic calling all the action, it was time to play.
Game 1: Aldrich vs. Monroe
Thunder (Durant & Westbrook) vs. Pistons (Hamilton & Stuckey)
In the first matchup of the night, the two big men set the tone. After a low scoring first half which saw Detroit go into the break with an 8-6 lead, Monroe subbed in Charlie Villanueva and Aldrich was able to push the game to overtime after blocking a shot at the buzzer. But in the end, it was the Thunder that prevailed.
Final score: Aldrich wins, 23-22
Game 2: White vs. George
Pistons (Hamilton & Gordon) vs. Pacers (Granger & Dunleavy)
I hate to say it, but this game was over before it even began. White was playing with his backpack on, and Dunleavy (in the game) was playing like LeBron. By halftime, the Pacers were winning 25-6, and it didn’t get much better than that. As Henry said after the game, “You only lost by 31. You’re good.” White’s response? “I’m a Madden guy.”
Final score: George wins, 45-14
Game 3: Davis vs. Turner
Magic (Howard & Carter) vs. Sixers (Turner & Iguodala)
This was the first game where one of the players decided to pick a different team than their own to play with, a strategy that would soon become prevalent throughout the tournament. As Davis put it, “I aint trying to lose!” But then again, neither was Turner. As the only player that was able to play as themselves in NBA JAM, Turner put in his initials at the start as “EMT,” and as he noted, “Call the medics.” Too bad he didn’t realize they’d be coming for him. Choosing the Magic to have Howard in the post blocking everything, a 16-12 halftime lead turned into an even bigger win.
Final score: Davis wins, 32-23
Game 4: Williams vs. Henry
Blazers (Roy & Oden) vs. Heat (James & Wade)
Subbing in for Patterson who was originally supposed to play in this final game, Henry didn’t do much better. Williams and his Blazers opened up the game on an 8-0 run and never looked back. Even though Williams thought that he had sat out too long to do well, he withstood Miami’s attack (and Henry’s trash talk) to get the W.
Final score: Williams wins, 56-43
Game 5: Aldrich vs. George
Thunder (Durant & Westbrook) vs. Pacers (Granger & Dunleavy)
The second round was all about strategy. Sort of. When asked what his was, Aldrich simply responded, “I really don’t have one. If I play my game, I’ll be aiight.” As for George, his plan was a little bit more developed. “I just wanna attack him, take it right to him,” he said. “You know, dunk on him a couple times and make him lose his confidence.” Can you guess who prevailed? After a 14-2 Pacer lead after the first quarter, a hilarious expletive-laden Aldrich all but gave up. When I asked his former college teammate Henry about his video game skills in college, his answer kind of put it all in perspective: “Cole doesn’t play video games. You can kinda tell.”
Final score: George wins, 38-12
Game 6: Davis vs. Williams
Heat (James & Bosh) vs. Magic (Howard & Carter)
When I asked these two about their strategy, they both kept it very simple: “Win.” And by playing with the Heat and Magic respectively, you could tell that neither guy wanted to go home early. Perhaps it was the fact that James and Bosh are new to the Heat, or the fact that Williams is that good, but after growing a 26-17 lead at the half, the Magic easily closed things out for a trip to the championship game.
Final score: Williams wins, 55-31
Game 7: George vs. Williams
Lakers (Bryant & Gasol) vs. Magic (Howard & Carter)
There’s some backstory to this one. While everyone was warming up before the tournament, George and Williams found themselves locked in a battle between George’s hometown Lakers and Williams’ Blazers. At the buzzer, George was able to block the dunk attempt to send it to overtime. In this game, he wasn’t so lucky. Williams and the Magic began the game on a 12-0 run, which in turn led to a 29-9 lead at the half. In the second half, D-Stroy was yelling at George to wake up, but it was too little too late. Despite a small run to end the third, Williams was on the phone getting sized for a ring.
Final score: Williams wins, 49-31
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