Editor’s Note: Kyle Chank is a guest writer for ValleyoftheSuns. He hails from Indian Wells and has played in the same venue that the Suns will be playing in tonight.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Many fans can relate to growing up playing basketball under the lights at the local park as you re-created scenarios in which you were an NBA star and the game was on the line.
Last year I had the opportunity to play on the Suns’ court the day before Phoenix’s outdoor game in Indian Wells. The game was free and the turnout was huge, which only made the true NBA effect more realistic.
As a high school senior I had never experienced anything of that importance before. High school basketball in Palm Springs draws under 500 fans a game; however, the game last year had over 4,000 friends, family members, and basketball fanatics.
The benches were official Suns benches, which gave a whole new meaning to being a benchwarmer. Sure, everyone has played outdoors, but the greatest athletes in the world were going to be playing on that same court the next day.
The center court where the BNP Paribas tennis tournament is played every March will be replaced by the official Suns NBA court tonight, as basketballs will be bouncing around instead of tennis balls.
For last year’s inaugural outdoor game the Phoenix Suns rented the court that was used; however, this year the team brought the official floor from Phoenix. The floor consists of 225 panels, each 4 by 8 feet, according to The Desert Sun.
The official baskets that will be used in tonight’s 6:30 p.m. game are rented, however. The Suns have three official Spalding goals, two for the game and one for backup, which are NBA regulation 10-foot rims.
Phoenix’s opponent, the Golden State Warriors, comes into tonight’s TNT game 2-1 so far in the preseason. The Suns are 1-0 during their preseason stint with their win coming at home versus Partizan.
Although all eyes tonight will be on the Suns and the Warriors, for the high school basketball players who got to play on this court the night before the pros use it, playing that game will be as close as they ever get to being an NBA player. That experience will last with me forever.