For the Love of the Game
Posted Aug 21 2006 12:21PM
Passion wins out in NBA Live 07 Rookie Tournament
TARRYTOWN, N.Y., Aug. 15 -- There were 34 members of the NBA's brightest future stars in the gym, and perhaps the best player couldn't have stood more than four feet high. That was the scene Monday in Tarrytown as the new rookie class gathered for the 2006 T-Mobile NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.
Stationed at one of the two Xbox video game consoles designed to keep the players occupied as they filled time between breaks of a grueling seven-hour shoot, the Knicks 6-7 high-energy forward Renaldo Balkman found himself going pixel-to-pixel with a four-year-old NBA fan as a mounting crowd of onlookers watched the pair preview the latest edition of EA Sports' NBA Live 07, in stores late September.
Video games, of course, are the great equalizer in the competitive world. It doesn't matter how tall you are, how big your biceps or how high you can jump. In the gaming world, talent isn't something you're born with but rather what you acquire with enough practice.
Consequently, it came as no surprise when the most experienced gamer in Tarrytown that day, Kings guard Quincy Douby reeled off four straight wins and outlasted 15 other competitors in the EA Sports NBA Live 07 Rookie Tournament later in the night.
From the very beginning, when Douby easily glided past No. 4 overall pick Tyrus Thomas in the first round, his peers knew he was a forced to be reckoned with.
"Quincy Douby's going to win it," Hornets center Hilton Armstrong proclaimed when asked for his pick. "He looked real good."
And Douby was just getting started. As the 6-3 shooting guard learned how to take advantage of the upgrades of the latest iteration of the NBA Live franchise, his wins became more convincing. In particular, Douby said the game allowed users to have more control on the defensive end, specifically with regard to blocking shots. He also admired the touch-ups in graphics and animations in NBA Live 07.
Perhaps the only other player in Tarrytown that night who seemed like he could match Douby's passion for video games, as well as threaten his crown, was Memphis guard Kyle Lowry.
But Douby had a distinct advantage over Lowry: the former Rutgers guard was schooled on an Xbox system, the console of choice for the tournament. Lowry, as a PlayStation2 loyalist, had to do his best to adapt to the differences in the game controllers.
When the pair met in the quarterfinals, in what was expected to be a clash of the titans, Lowry obviously didn't adapt well enough: Douby easily won 23-8. That wasn't the only surprise of the tournament.
The most memorable matchup had to be a rather forgettable performance from Celtics guard Allan Ray, who missed his first 13 shots of the game in his first round against Clippers center Paul Davis. Ray looked like his team was about to register a donut on the scoreboard before managing an Al Jefferson dunk with just seconds in the game.
Then there was the Final Four face off against Raptors forward P.J. Tucker and Pacers guard James White -- the clash of the trash talkers.
White seemed to want to the championship title more than anyone, constantly trying to motivate himself between breaks.
"Just advance," he said to himself while pumping his first after making it to the semifinals. What did he say about his decision to play in the tournament with the Heat and Suns rather than the Pacers?
"I'm trying to win."
At stake for the rookies was a Xbox 360 and PSP unit, as well as all of the EA Sports game titles for those systems. The vanquished received VIP cards which allowed them to contact EA Sports to receive the publisher's full lineup in the mail.
"Come get some," White told Tucker, a late-minute replacement for Shannon Brown in the tournament embarking on an improbable run.
"I can't believe I'm in the semifinals," Tucker said with a laugh. "I haven't played a video game in years."
But Tucker's proclamation that he'd share his winnings with his defeated opponents proved premature. White blew the game open, 24-2, handing the former Texas forward an embarrassing loss and some good natured ribbings along the way.
That convincing win, White later would say, boosted his confidence heading into the finals with Douby.
"I've been behind my whole life," White told a television reporter in a pre-game interview. "They've been doubting me my whole life. This is nothing."
For his part, Douby earned a ticket to the championship game by easily running over Lakers guard Jordan Farmar, 31-16, in a semifinals matchup that had both players selecting the L.A. Lakers and Farmar screaming foul.
"You shouldn't be able to pick a team you're not under contract with," Farmer protested.
Douby didn't care. He knew Kobe Bryant could get him the title he desired, and it was on his coattails that he rode as the the championship trophy came within reach.
Using an onslaught of penetrations and dunks from Bryant, who scored 27 points, Douby marched out to an 11-5 halftime edge before breaking the game open in the second half.
In the midst of it all, Tucker, still feeling the sting of his semifinals loss, grabbed the mike of the MC and proceeded to get his revenge on White during the entire second half.
"James White is going to go home ill tonight. Can we get him the VIP card?" Tucker said as former Texas teammate LaMarcus Aldridge cracked up.
"Shenanigans. I call Shenanigans," White yelled out.
"Nobody remembers second," Tucker exclaimed.
"Hey, I get extra per diem money for playing an extra game."
"All good things must come to an end…. Don't ignore me."
"I thought you took losing like a man. I sense some saltiness there."
For his part, Douby saved his talking until the games were done. With a 36-24 finals win in hand along with a brand new Xbox 360, he showcased the type of passion for gaming that put himself in the winner's circle in the first place.
"I already have an Xbox 360 but that doesn't mean I can't have one upstairs and downstairs," he said with a smile and twinkle in his eye.