NBA players form a pickup game in the city as lockup looms.
Earlier this week, former men’s basketball player Mark Tyndale said he had a free ticket through his connection with the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick to play at last Sunday’s Battle For I-95 at the Palestra.
Early in the second quarter of Sunday’s exhibition, Tyndale found himself with his knees bent and arms spread wide as he tried to contain NBA All-Star LeBron James. The former Temple standout received a text message earlier that day from Warrick asking him to join Team Philly.
“I was just happy to be out there with those guys and perform,” Tyndale said.
Along with Tyndale, former Owls Dionte Christmas and Mardy Collins also suited up against Team Melo, a squad of marquee NBA names assembled by New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. Christmas also received a text in the morning, while Collins asked Warrick to reserve him a spot.
Former Owl Lynn Greer was scheduled to play, but instead was at the game in street clothes.
In 2008, Tyndale and Christmas teamed up to lead Temple to their first Atlantic Ten Conference Championship in seven years and a return to the NCAA Tournament. In January of that season, the Owls knocked off rival St. Joseph’s at the Palestra as fans stormed the court following the game.
“It brought back a lot of memories, coming in here playing at the Palestra,” Christmas said. “Great atmosphere, I haven’t seen anything like that in a couple years. It felt great, coming back and playing with these guys.”
Collins graduated from Temple in 2006 and is the only one of the three to play in the NBA, as he was drafted by New York with the 29th overall pick in the first round and played five seasons with three different teams. Collins averaged 15.4 points per game over his four years at Temple, but failed to make the NCAA tournament. In his senior year, the Owls advanced to the first round of the NIT.
In a mostly offensive game, Team Philly beat Team Melo, 131-122. Also playing for Team Philly were former Villanova guard Kyle Lowry of the Houston Rockets and Lou Williams of the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It was great, I was happy to see the fans cheering for us,” Collins said. I thought a lot of fans would be star-struck and rooting for them, but it was good to see them supporting the Philly team.”
All three former Owls spent last season overseas, as Collins played in Turkey, Christmas in Greece and Tyndale in Germany.
“I’m not going to stop until I get there. I had a couple workouts in the summer and I did good at them,” Christmas said. “And I’ve been playing well overseas, so hopefully when this lockout is done I can get a tryout and latch on.”
As lockout negotiations continue for NBA players, the league announced on Sept. 23 that it was canceling 43 preseason games and postponing training camps, indefinitely.
Matt Breen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.