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  • Writer's pictureKevin Scarbinsky

Brandon Miller, Jabari Smith make summer hoops jump again

Did you see what happened in the Summer League? That's not a new question around here. There was a time, before Jabari Smith Jr., was born, before Jabari Smith Sr. was a teenager, when it was asked and answered a lot this time of year.

It might mean that Charles Barkley, after his third year in the NBA, won the slam-dunk contest. Or Andy Kennedy, before playing his first game at UAB, dropped 31 on opening night. Or Buck Johnson, after graduating from Alabama to the NBA, schooled a future Crimson Tide star.

Back in the '80s, the Birmingham Summer League was wall-to-wall ball. From Bartow Arena at UAB to Bill Battle Coliseum at Birmingham-Southern and beyond, the local gyms jumped in June and July with some of the best players in state history pushing each other to get better.

There was no pay. There was no TV. There was only opportunity. For college starters from across the state to measure themselves against NBA stars. For NBA stars to stay sharp in the off-season. For true basketball fans to enjoy watching big names play for the love of the game we love, too.

The Birmingham Summer League elevated the game, and all these years later, hoops in this state has reached rare air again. So let's climb out of the wayback machine and flash back to Friday when familiar faces did familiar, spectacular things under brighter lights on a bigger stage. On the first night of the NBA 2K24 Summer League in Las Vegas, in consecutive games at the Thomas & Mack Center, Jabari Smith Jr. and Brandon Miller played like stars. ...

Read more of Kevin's thoughts on summer hoops past and present. Only in the Lede.

Alabama's Brandon Miller and Auburn's Jabari Smith have made an impression in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.



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