D-Fenders Represent NBA D-League Ambassadors
Not all NBA Summer Leagues take place in Las Vegas. Six (6) NBA teams, the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs and host Utah Jazz, participated in the Rocky Mountain Review presented by StoresOnline. The field of teams also included the Iranian National Team and the NBA D-League Ambassadors. The Iranian National Team is in Utah preparing for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing coming up and had a chance to play against some of the top talent in the world, going up against NBA summer squads as well as the NBA D-League Ambassadors. The NBA D-League Ambassadors are made up of D-League players who weren’t participating on NBA Summer League rosters and still want to showcase their talent in front of NBA coaches and front office personnel.
Two former D-Fenders have found their way onto the Ambassadors squad. Guards Errick Craven and Cecil Brown are trying to build upon a successful foundation that they established in their first season playing professional basketball in the D-League with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. After the D-League season concluded in April, both players have been working out in hopes to crack an NBA roster. Both think that their time with the D-Fenders have helped them mature on and off the court, “It’s about knowing the timing, knowing how to play the game, pace of the game. I think that was a tremendous help in playing against these guys (in the D-League) who are going to the NBA. We still have a lot to learn, they might be more skilled than I, but I do have the knowledge of how to play in the NBA, and that’s really good,” said Errick Craven. His teammate Cecil Brown also feels the same way. “I just think I know more about the professional game than when I just came from college, you have to run a professional game because it’s different than college. So having a year in the D-League, I already know the NBA style of play,” Brown proclaimed.
While in Salt Lake the guys got a chance to suit up against the Iranian National team who qualified for the 2008 Olympics as the FIBA Asia Champions. The Ambassadors beat the Iranians in an exhibition game, 79-60, with Craven and Brown each performing well. Errick Craven, the former USC standout played 17 minutes, scoring 7 points on 3-4 shooting from the field while teammate Cecil Brown, the former UC-Santa Barbara Gaucho started the game and played 31 minutes, scoring 8 points, going 2-5 from the field. “It was different. The way they played was more like college than anything we faced in the D-League (last season) because they just kept moving, nonstop moving it was crazy but a lot of fun though,” explained Brown.
Not only did the Ambassadors play against the Iranians they also went up against San Antonio’s Summer League team that had some faces that looked pretty familiar to Errick and Cecil. Former D-Fenders teammates Brian Morrison and Devin Green were invited to run with the Spurs during the Revue. “It was cool, we were just out there talking to them, having a dialogue during the course of the game. It just made things more calm and comfortable having them their. I used to guard him (Green) in D-Fenders practices, so seeing him on the floor on the opposite team made things seem a little bit more familiar,” noted Craven. Brown on the other hand was excited that his former teammates are getting looked at by an NBA team, “It was great playing against them because I was really happy to see them get an opportunity to work out with the Spurs. It was a little weird because those are my friends who I have been working out with all season, but it was a good experience.”
With the Revue all wrapped up, it looks as if these D-Fenders have done all the could do to showcase their talent. "Having the NBA D-League Ambassadors compete at the Rocky Mountain Revue gives our players an opportunity to get valuable exposure," said Chris Alpert, Vice President of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBA D-League. "Errick (Craven) and Cecil (Brown) both enjoyed successful seasons in L.A. last year, and while they weren't selected for an NBA team's summer league roster, we are pleased to give them the opportunity to showcase their skills as NBA D-League Ambassadors."
They are also looking forward to returning to L.A. to have some down time. “I haven’t really had a chance to relax yet; I’m kind of anticipating this to be over so I can just go home and relax” Craven revealed.