Avery Bradley would have been with the Celtics team in Vegas during Summer League, either playing or in support, had he not undergone shoulder surgery the week prior.
But a week after Summer League, with his Celtics team long gone, Bradley made the trek to Sin City but not to gamble. (Although who can blame him if he played some craps?)
Bradley was in town to support his other team.
I wanted to give back to the community, so I made a team; it's called Team Avery Bradley. It's sponsored by Adidas, like me, he said.
Bradley grew up in Tacoma, Wash., playing basketball every day. Rarely did he get a chance to play out of that area at a younger age the funds just werent there. The same cant be said now because Bradley, proud of where he grew up, returned home and adopted an AAU team now based out of Tacoma.
It's a chance for kids to be able to travel, have fun, and play the game that they love, Bradley said. I wasn't able to do that.
Thanks to Bradley, they can and they can do it in style. Bradley made sure his deal with Adidas included not only financially supporting their trips to all the Adidas tournaments, but hooking them up with nice uniforms.
Adidas pays well I do, it comes out of my contract, he said. That's how it works. It's part of my deal. Adidas pays for everything. The kids have better shoes than me. Seriously. Because I don't really care about shoes, and you know how they are high school kids."
The team, which Bradley says all the best players in that area play for, consists mainly of Tacoma natives with a couple kids from Portland.
What we did was we took over a team in Portland and we kind of combined it, because in AAU basketball you can get players from one state away, he explained. So we always get a player from Portland. So it's Tacoma and Portland, that's it. No Seattle players.
While Bradley doesnt have a hand in coaching, think of him as the godfather of the team.
"My AAU coach that was the coach of my team is the coach of their team now, Bradley said. I just support. Go to the games; let the kids know that I care. I watch them, give them tips stuff like that. But I don't coach or anything.
Bradleys known a lot of these now juniors and seniors since they were in second grade. They look up to him the way he used to for Jason Terry, a Seattle native. But Bradley has a much bigger picture in mind for these kids than just stamping their plane tickets to the city of their next tournament.
Bradley, along with second-year Los Angeles Kings guard Isaiah Thomas and University of Washington senior Abdul Gaddy took basketball to a different level in Tacoma, according to Bradley. In other words, theyve been able to parlay their basketball talents into college and professional careers.
He hopes to put his players in the best position possible to do the same.
One player this year is going to Colorado, Bradley said. He's a senior this year. That's the thing; a lot of kids where I'm from don't go to college. And so that's what we try to do. We try to help them know that school is important. That's the most important thing for me, so they can go to college.
Seattle natives like Terry and Jamal Crawford came back for their city. Now its Bradleys turn.
All those guys have teams, except me, I was the only one, Bradley said. And since I was the first NBA player from Tacoma, that's what I wanted to do.
Tacoma, Washington is now on the map, and Bradley intends to keep it that way.