The Battle For I-95 between Team Philly and Team Melo at The Palestra Sunday night certainly whet the appetites of NBA fans while they wait for the league’s lockout to be settled. The basketball game was played before more than 8,700 fans with Team Philly defeating Team Melo, 131-122.
Team Melo featured a number of NBA all-stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Team Philly was loaded with NBA standouts as well with Lou Williams, Kyle Lowry and Tyreke Evans. Of course, the game provided an opportunity for other players to get some much needed work in so they would be ready to give the NBA another shot once the lockout ends.
Ronald “Flip” Murray and Mardy Collins also played for Team Philly. Murray and Collins played professional basketball in Turkey last year. They’re looking forward to getting back to the NBA.
“I had offseason surgery. I had a bone spur in my toe. I’m getting back in shape,” Murray said.
“I’m working out and getting ready for the season. It was a good experience in Turkey. I had a chance to see the other side of the world. They play a different style of basketball. It’s the Euro League basketball. It was great basketball. But I want to get back to the NBA. I’m trying to wait until this lockout is over before I decide what I’m going to do. If I can play three or four more years that would be great.”
Everybody knows what Murray can do. The former All-Public League standout was a brilliant player for Strawberry Mansion. He played his college basketball for Shaw University, where he led the Bears to their first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship in 2002. He also guided Shaw University to the Division II NCAA Final Four. Murray was named Division II Player of the Year.
In 2002, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the second round. Murray played for the Bucks as well as the Seattle SuperSonics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls. He played eight years in the NBA. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was happy to be back in Philly.
“This is good for the fans and the city,” Murray said. “They get a chance to come out and see a live game with NBA stars like LeBron and Carmelo.”
Collins, an All Public League star at Simon Gratz, played a couple months in Turkey as well. The 6-foot-6 guard is hoping to get another opportunity to play in the NBA.
“I played in Turkey for only two months,” Collins said. “I strained my calf in the summer time. Then, I went to (Washington) Wizards’ camp and the first day of the conditioning drills I strained it again. I was out until about December. So, basically I was out all year just trying to recover.”
Collins had a great college career at Temple. In 2005-06, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game as a senior. He was regarded as one of the top shooting guards in the country.
In 2006, the New York Knicks selected him in the first round with the 29th overall pick. He played two seasons with the Knicks. In 2008, he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, playing there for two seasons. He has played four seasons in the NBA.
“I’ve been working out all summer trying to stay in shape,” Collins said. “I played in the Rankin-Anderson and the King of Prussia league. I also played in the Dan Rumph Classic. I think I’ve been in the championship game of every league. We’ve won two of them and lost two of them. I’ve been playing pretty well.
“It’s going to be tough getting back in this year. But my thing is staying healthy. That’s the key for me. I’ve always been banged up with little injuries. I just have to stay healthy and stay fit. I have to keep working on my shot. I believe I can get back.”
NOTES: Lynn Greer, former Engineering and Science and Temple star, will play professional basketball in Russia this season. Greer made an appearance at the game. Former 76er Willie Green also attended the game. Green plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
Team Philly had a lot of local flavor with Hakim Warrick, Jason Thompson, Dionte Christmas, Wayne Ellington, Mark Tyndale and Aaron Owens. Gerald Henderson stopped by to see his former Episcopal Academy teammate Ellington in the game. Henderson plays for the Charlotte Bobcats.