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Locked-out NBA players pick it up at UCLA

Games at Student Activities Center have been a hot summer draw for decades, and labor uncertainty has expanded their importance. Jrue Holiday and Carmelo Anthony, among others, have taken part.

August 29, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Former UCLA players Jordan Farmar of the Nets and Jrue Holiday of the 76ers are spending the NBA lockout in different ways: Farmar is playing in Israel while Holiday is staying closer to home and working out at UCLA.
Former UCLA players Jordan Farmar of the Nets and Jrue Holiday of the 76ers… (Jeanna Duerscherl / Associated…)

Found: Evidence that a current NBA player is not talking about packing away his talent and taking it overseas if the league-imposed lockout should continue.

Jrue Holiday, pioneer.

Kidding aside — yes, there have been others willing to wait it out and not add to their frequent flier accounts — Holiday said Monday at UCLA that he has no interest in going elsewhere.

"I don't want to go overseas," he said. "I'm not going anywhere. That's pretty much it. I'm more of a homebody."

The benefits of being close to home were front and center for Philadelphia's point guard. Holiday, who played for the Bruins, was getting ready to play in one of the intense games going on in the afternoon on the second floor of UCLA's Student Activities Center.

"Really just chilling and trying to communicate with my teammates and see where we are at," Holiday said. "Just because when, if, the league comes back, we want to start off on a good foot. I know a lot of the guys on the team are out here right now."

This slice of hoop heaven has been a hot summer draw for decades for NBAers wanting to keep an edge and dates back to the Magic Johnson era. The ongoing NBA labor uncertainty has only helped expand the power base in Westwood.

Last week, the likes of Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith and Russell Westbrook were at UCLA, and there were enough NBA players on hand to hold a players' association meeting, according to Adam Mills, the long-time organizer of these games.

On Monday, Mills was busy putting games together on the fly with the air of an affable maitre d', accommodating the request of the eight-player 76ers' contingent to play on the same team. ("Most of the contract guys are here," Holiday said.)

Timberwolves draft pick Derrick Williams was a late arrival, meaning that Mills was doing some last-second adjusting to the lineups. The Clippers' Eric Bledsoe was back at the UCLA games for the second time and said he planned on returning in the future. Bledsoe said he worked out a bit with Clippers teammate and rookie of the year Blake Griffin.

"A lot of ball handling," Bledsoe said. "It was good working with him. Keep the team chemistry going."

Big man Louis Amundson of the Warriors has been coming to the gym at UCLA for the last few years. He played in Phoenix for two seasons before signing with Golden State almost a year ago.

"It's good. Sometimes it's hit or miss," Amundson said. "You come on better days than others. But I think for something that is more or less unorganized — guys just kind of show up — it is a pretty decent run. I try to get up here every day or at least three times a week."

Like many of his colleagues, Amundson is pondering his future.

"I'm just going to hope for the best and weigh my options as we get a little bit closer to the season and see how it's looking," he said. "There's nothing you can really do. All you can do is sit back, hope it gets taken care of and be prepared because once they do come to an agreement, it's going to start real quick."

Holiday is living with his parents, and Amundson said he has been fiscally prudent. Then again, he was that way even before the lockout.

"I don't really live beyond my means — I don't have four or five cars," he said, chuckling. "I'm not too worried about it affecting me. But I've been saving my money, making sure I have cash in the bank before this thing started."

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