Christian Welp is introduced before the Legends Game at Alaska Airlines Arena. Welp’s purple team beat the white team 27-22. Photo by: Evan Webeck/The Husky Haul
With more than 100 Washington basketball alumni in attendance, the Huskies’ Alumni Event lived up to the hype. In a fast-paced game reminiscent of Husky basketball at its best, the post-2009 team defeated the pre-2009 squad, 107-103.
Isaiah Thomas was named MVP of the game, leading all scorers with 24 points. Two others joined Thomas with 20-plus points, but both Tre Simmons (23) and Spencer Hawes (21) were on the losing squad.
The whole event was a showcase of what Lorenzo Romar has created at UW and the players that have come from it.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning flew in from London to participate in the affair. He, Quincy Pondexter and Bobby Jones all came from overseas to participate. None of them regret the grueling travel it took to get home, though.
“As soon as you get into town, everybody hits you up…I tweeted ‘wheels down,’ and I got a direct message from Isaiah,” he said. “We lived together while we were here, so it’s just like they’re all my brothers. Being able to come back and play again with them was just the best feeling.”
Then, there were the players that still live in the Seattle-area, like Will Conroy, Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy. Robinson couldn’t compete at his usual level because he is going to be an unrestricted free agent, but noted the memories that were brought back by the atmosphere.
“Being in [the] tunnel, looking at the opposing teams and getting hyped with my guys is just fun,” he said. “It brings back a lot of good memories.”
Everyone, including Coach Romar, was impressed by the amount of fans that showed up. Romar even addressed the capacity-crowd between games, saying, “When we first decided to put this event on, we were hopeful that if everything fell together, we would get 5,000 people in here.”
It turned out Seattle basketball fans are pretty passionate. Robinson thinks they need something more than just the Huskies, though.
“[The basketball program] has come a long way. For the fans to show love like this is great,” he said. “It shows we need the Sonics back.”
The crowd wasn’t announced as a sellout until the Alumni Game was about to get underway. The late arrivers missed a fun game that pitted some of the older alumni against each other.
The purple legends team included all-time scoring leader, Christian Welp and Eldridge Recasner, while the white team had former assistant Paul Fortier, Donald Watts and Jason Hamilton. Romar led the purple team to a 27-22 victory behind 11 points and two assists.
Justin Dentmon upset Ryan Appleby to take the 3-point crown with 15 made shots versus Appleby’s 10. Robinson and Pondexter each finished with 12.
The day closed with a dunk contest. All 18 participants reportedly asked to be in it, but only four were chosen. Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Justin Holiday both threw down two impressive dunks, but neither scored high enough to make it to the finals.
Rather, the finals pitted NBA Dunk Champion, Terrence Ross, against underdog Darnell Gant. Despite receiving a lob from the heavens — or Tony Wroten in the stands — Ross was upset by Gant, who bounced the ball off the shot clock before monstrously throwing it down.
All in all, there can be no complaints about four hours of the best Huskies to ever play having fun with each other and showing off their skills on one, historic court.