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Reno's D-League basketball franchise hosts a memorable Media Day.
Photo: Tyler Honeycutt of the Bighorns goes up for a lay-up.
On Tuesday, November 13, the Reno Bighorns kicked off their 2012-13 season with Bighorns Media Day at the South Reno Athletic Club in Reno. The team was present to sign memorabilia, be photographed for the team program, and answer media questions.
The line of tables with auctionable items was quite remarkable. Featured were special T-shirts and basketballs for charity purposes. Each player had a personal table and was told to sign these special items at the beginning of the event. These tables had items such as worn game jerseys and personalized messages for the lucky fan that would receive the item.
Then it was time for each of the Bighorns players to don their own game jersey to be photographed for the 2012-13 team program. Tyler Honeycutt, the Bighorns’ lone NBA contract player (he is signed with the Sacramento Kings), was the center of attention.
Interviewing athletes or people in the spotlight is always a treat, and the team was more than gracious with their time. Guard Will Blalock, a three-year Bighorns veteran, said, “I along with a couple of guys on the team are the lone veterans, and we feel pressure to improve the team from our last season.” Blalock told me he had to work extra hard compared to most players because of his 6-foot-1 stature, considered small in the basketball world.
Blalock was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the 2006 NBA Draft. He spoke of the Bighorns’ responsibility to help each other along the path to a prosperous basketball career. One of those teammates, Dontell Jefferson, is a fresh face for the Bighorns, and he told me that he felt nervous waiting for his name to be called on draft day.
He also said that he focused on doing the work he could control every day and things would work out for him. This nervousness came despite being decorated as an All-America selection by both ESPN and the Associated Press. He was also named Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2005-06.
However, no player has more pressure on his shoulders than to have a relative with NBA experience. Two players on the Bighorns roster are among that group: Marcus Landry and Ralph Sampson III. Landry was very complimentary of his family, saying his inspiration came from his brother Carl Landry, currently a member of the Golden State Warriors.
Ralph Sampson, grandfather to the current Bighorn, is famous in the NBA for what many would call the most awkward-looking game winner in league history. It came in the final moments of the Western Conference Finals of 1986 as the Rockets sent the heavily favored Lakers home without a chance to defend their NBA championship.
As it was almost time to wrap up the day of interviews, everyone in attendance witnessed a basketball treat. Landry went up against Honeycutt for locker-room bragging rights in a one-on-one game. The final score varied depending on who was retelling the story. I called it 13-to-10 in favor of Honeycutt, who amazed the media and his teammates with his natural quickness and accurate long-range shooting that normally does not come easily for big men at this advanced level.
Then, sadly, the three-hour event had to come to an end. I picked up my cameras and recording equipment a little forlornly, but knew that an exciting season was on the horizon. My excitement came from the fact that I looked into the faces of every player at the event, and I recognized the look. I have seen it before in teams before they won championships.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
9393 Gateway Dr. Suite BH,
Reno, NV 89511
RENO BIGHORNS REMAINING 2012-13 HOME SCHEDULE
Mar. 7 vs. Idaho
Mar. 9 vs. Sioux Falls
Mar. 10 vs. Rio Grande Valley
Mar. 21 vs. Los Angeles
Mar. 23 vs. Idaho
Mar. 24 vs. Texas
Apr. 1 vs. Bakersfield
Apr. 2 vs. Santa Cruz
Apr. 5 vs. Canton
Apr. 6 vs. Canton