Basketball fortifies relationships and creates indelible bonds. One year, in fact, can create an identity that defines those involved for the rest of their lives. In 2006, this bond blossomed for Jai Lewis and Lamar Butler at George Mason. In 2013, Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott experienced the same phenomenon.
Both duos are Jim Larrañaga products that transformed the universities they played for. The latter duo, however, found avenues to continue what they started at Miami.
Thursday was the second day of NBA Summer League Tournament play and, as fate would have it, Kadji and Scott battled against each other. Kadji’s Cavaliers beat Scott’s Spurs 72-66.
Kadji had one of his most productive summer league games, shooting 57 percent from the floor. His 10 points and five rebounds contributed to the six-point victory. More importantly, his output propelled the Cavaliers to Saturday’s 4 p.m. matchup with the Heat.
For Scott, the loss did have a silver lining. His 12 minutes were the most he has played in four games with the Spurs. He also added two rebounds and one steal in the loss.
Even in defeat, Scott has another opportunity to showcase his talents. His Spurs are back in action tonight at 8 p.m. as they take on the Milwaukee Bucks. They must win to stay alive in the tournament.
Larrañaga’s 2006 George Mason team, featuring Lewis and Butler, exceeded expectations and created a lifelong identity, following an appearance in the NCAA Final Four. The 2013 Hurricanes experienced similar success, returning to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000.
Scott and Kadji have a Miami bond, a brotherhood that is deep-rooted in the university they represented. While their future may require some hand to hand combat, the struggle to become professional players remains a common effort. Even though their jerseys may be different, the experiences that created them will always remain the same.