It is a very sad day for those who enjoyed the quaintness and unique experience of watching NBA players play televised games in a small practice gyms with no fans or seating the first few days of July each year with the Orlando Summer League.
According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel on Monday, the Magic will no longer hold the Orlando Summer League and they will join the Las Vegas Summer League in 2018.
Here are some comments from the organization about the decision from Josh Robbins piece on the Sentinel:
“The pendulum is swinging toward teams playing in Vegas,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said.
“It’s a level of competition and a level of exposure when more or less every team in the league is there and you’re playing in front of 20,000 people as opposed to playing in a gym with a few hundred people. So it better prepares you for what NBA life is really about with the crowds, the pressure, the travel — a lot of what you’re going to have to confront. Obviously, it’s not a true test of an NBA season, but it’s a little taste.”
It appears that all 30 NBA teams will be participating in the Las Vegas Summer League moving forward, as Vegas has become the center of the NBA world in early July and Vegas Summer League has become appointment viewing (or attending for me) for hardcore NBA fans to see the NBA’s newest talent after being drafted into the league.
There will still be a Utah summer league moving forward, as it was just started in 2016, but it is clear that the NBA sees the Vegas Summer League as a summertime money maker and interest builder and you can bet that event will only continue to grow in interest and spectacle in the coming years.
This decision makes sense on a lot of levels, but not being able to watch the Orlando Summer League take place in a practice gym and the feel of a high school summer tournament will be a unique experience that I will miss.