Playing in the NBA for 14 years, retired NBA player, Tim Thomas has learned a thing or two about competition.
While going toe-to-toe with future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant in the NBA Playoffs was a highlight tape memory, Thomas is now looking to cement new legacies in his home state.
The Paterson, New Jersey native, McDonalds All-American and former Villanova Wildcat is now the face of Hoopsville, a summer Pro-Am basketball league.
Running since 2016, Hoopsville is an eight team league based in East Orange, New Jersey. Taking a cursory look on Hoopsville’s website, they’ve got some pretty cool team names too.
Imagine your Sunday checking out teams like the Hillsong Hustlers, Zoo Crew and Rack Attack.
Nice ring to it and very different from the professional basketball formalities during the late fall, winter and spring months.
But I digress!
Hoopsville’s league showcases local legends and professional stars every Sunday for nine-weeks and they play their games at East Orange Campus High School.
Their championship game is this Sunday.
Pro-Am is big business.
For those tardy to the party: There are many Pro-Am leagues across the country.
Dyckman in New York City and the Drew League in Los Angeles, California attracts any and everybody to both play and attend.
Thomas, however is looking for more hoopers in the Garden State to participate in it rather than go elsewhere.
“I’m trying to turn it into the East Coast version of the Drew League,” the former Milwaukee Bucks forward told me by phone.
“My vision is to have it where the top talent in the state, whether its NBA guys, former Division 1 players have the opportunity to get better over the summer.”
Thomas was drafted 7th in the 1997 NBA Draft by the Nets. He’d later be shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers in a draft day deal for the ’97 Draft’s 2nd overall pick, Keith Van Horn.
Throughout his career, Thomas has spent time with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks.
Being from New Jersey, he understands the landscape clearly with hoops and exposure locally.
“Most guys will go to New York before they go to New Jersey,” he said frankly.
With his partnership in East Orange, he’s hoping to change the summer Sunday afternoon culture in the Garden State.
To his credit, he has had success with hoops on the grassroots level.
His Playaz AAU team has produced notables who have played on the division 1 and professional level. Former New York Giant Victor Cruz came through the Playz as did ex-Seton Hall University forward, Marcus-Toney-El, Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry and current NBA free agent J.R. Smith.
While he’s no longer taking on NBA contemporaries like Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson and Vince Carter in the NBA Playoffs, Thomas is up for his newest challenge in the Garden State and it starts with the guarantee of quality hoops in a local and safe environment.
“The games are not watered down,” he said.
“They drill actual basketball and it’s basketball at the highest level of competition.”
For more information on Hoopsville visit hblproam.com.