It was mildly reminiscent of the Meadowlark Lemon and Harlem Globetrotter days when the basketball clown princes routinely defeated the Washington Generals for the purpose of entertaining the spectators.
Still, the NBL teams that took on NBA clubs in an exhibition series in Hawaii did show glimpses that the Generals could only dream about.
The NBA won all of the pre-season exhibition games.
On the final day of the junket, Melbourne United was no match for the Toronto Raptors, even though Melbourne had hung in admirably in an earlier game against the Philadelphia 76ers. The final score was 120 – 82 in favour of Toronto.
United had trouble hitting shots from outside until the final period, when Chris Goulding and Casper Ware each scored 17 points. The Raptors have an Aussie player in their midst in Deng Adel and Adel supplied an impressive individual performance, making all five of his shot attempts and adding three rebounds.
Of all the games in the tournament, it would have seemed that the best chance for the NBL was the match between the Perth Wildcats and the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are perennial bottom dwellers in the ranks of the NBA and their play often leaves some thinking that the Washington Generals are alive and well in Colorado.
NBL MVP Bryce Cotton did a credible LeBron James impersonation, minus the scowl, scoring 33 points and keeping Perth close to Denver, with the outcome being a respectable eight point loss of 96 – 88.
An increasing number of Aussies are finding green pastures in the NBA and more than one NBA player, such as Andrew Bogut, are now selecting the NBL as the place to finish out, rather than one of the European leagues.
The teams from the NBL are now making their ways back to Australia for the jump of the NBL regular season, which gets underway on Thursday.
The NBL is certain to see the level of play lifted from the opportunity to play against the top professional league in the world, but it might be sometime before they can take the floor while whistling Sweet Georgia Brown.