BRADENTON, Fla. – IMG Academy feels like the evolution of the Cobra Kai gym from The Karate Kid. Everyone there is bigger, stronger, and more singularly focused than high schoolers are supposed to be. The weight room rivals many ACC schools, and signs reminding you to hydrate could’ve easily been put there by Texas football coach Tom Herman. It’s here that Gatorade chose as home for its Sports Science Institute, and it’s here that a group of us are learning about sweat tests for the first time.
It’s 2017, so it’s naive in this era – where everybody needs something, everybody wants something, and quid pro quo isn’t a foreign saying as much as it is a way of life – to assume anything is done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart. Altruism as a concept means a heck of a lot less when billionaires can erase years of hard work off the internet due to a petty squabble. But symbiotic relationships still have their place. Some of the earliest strong economies were based on trade, and a healthy exchange is what Gatorade and IMG Academy get out of each other, and what the NBA is hoping to accomplish through its relationship with Gatorade in partnership for the NBA G League.
A true minor league system has been missing in basketball for quite some time. Instead, there are offshoots of how players can work their way up if they’re not ready for prime time out of the chute. Guys could go overseas, play four years in college, or toil away in the D-League, which had steadily been building from year to year.
NBA G League president Malcolm Turner wants to change that, and the 2017-18 season – starting on Nov. 3 – is his first true chance to do so.