GREENVILLE, S.C., Aug. 16 –
Already making tremendous strides in developing talent for the NBA after just three seasons, the National Basketball Development League is also making its presence felt at the 2004 Summer Olympic basketball venue in Greece.
Former Huntsville Flight guard Rick Apodaca is seeing the Games from a player’s perspective as a member of Team Puerto Rico. Apodaca played in 25 games for the Flight last season, averaging 25.6 minutes, 10.7 points and 1.5 rebounds before nagging injuries cut his season short. He played briefly in Puerto Rico’s upset of Team USA.
Former Mobile Revelers coach Sam Vincent is taking in the Games from the sidelines, serving as head coach for the Nigerian women’s team, which lost to 2000 silver-medalist Australia, 85-73, over the weekend. Vincent is joined on the bench by Roanoke Dazzle athletic trainer Janece Risty, who also served as Vincent’s trainer when the Revelers won the 2003 NBDL Championship.
Operating from a slightly different angle is NBDL official Jose Carrion, who is serving as a referee at the games. Although the NBDL has had six officials get the call to the NBA, Carrion is obviously the first NBDL official to represent the league at the Olympics.
The NBDL, the NBA’s minor league, includes the Fayetteville Patriots (N.C.), Florida Flame (Ft. Myers), Huntsville Flight (Ala.), Roanoke Dazzle (Va.), Columbus Riverdragons (Ga.) and Asheville Altitude (N.C.).
The league offers players the opportunity to develop their talent in a highly competitive atmosphere under the NBA’s umbrella. Twenty-eight players have been called up the NBA on 39 separate occasions. Six former NBDL coaches, four athletic trainers, six referees and 28 front office executives have also been called up since the start of the league’s inaugural season in November 2001.
Designed to help grow the sport of basketball both domestically and internationally, the league also offers fun, family entertainment at affordable prices. The NBDL is a source of on-court talent for the NBA’s 30 teams and is a diverse human resources pool for the NBA and its teams by training employees in management, operations, public relations, sales and marketing positions.