Butler Did It: A busy hoops week for Queens

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School is out and my...

“Summertime and the living’s easy,” Sublime tells me, and as a sports writer in New York City whose primarily responsibility is high school and college sports, I have every reason to believe the former Long Beach-based band.

School is out and my workload, which is hectic to say the least from September through June, supposedly lessens during these hazy days.

But you wouldn’t know that by taking one glance at the TimesLedger sports section this week. In these eloquently written pages you will find pages and pages — three, to be exact — of basketball.

Known as the city game, basketball truly doesn’t have a season in New York.

The busy basketball week started last Thursday, when former Christ the King standout Chamique Holdsclaw made another triumphant return to Madison Square Garden, leading the Washington Mystics past the New York Liberty.

Holdsclaw always seems to have a great game at the Garden and last Thursday was no exception. The WNBA’s leading scorer had 19 points and 10 rebounds in the 71-54 win.

Also last Thursday, USA Basketball announced that another former Christ the King standout, Lamar Odom, was one of the final five players named to the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball roster.

Odom, a versatile 6-foot-10 five-year NBA veteran, joined Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer and Emeka Okafor on the 12-man roster.

I think Odom deserves the selection. He was one of only two players — NBA MVP Tracy McGrady was the other — to average at least 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists per game last year.

But I also think it’s a disgrace that McGrady, Karl Malone, Jermaine O’Neal and others declined the chance to play in the Olympics.

Maybe these guys are scared to lose, maybe their only allegiance is to the millions in their bank accounts, but representing your country in the Olympic games should be considered an honor. It was an honor for legends like Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, and it will be an honor for Odom from Ozone Park.

When Odom returns from Athens, though, he may be looking for a new place to live. He is rumored to be part of a trade that would send the larger-than-life Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat in exchange for Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler and a 2005 first-round draft pick.

I know it’s Shaq and I know he’s the most dominant player in the league when he wants to play, but that’s an awful lot to give up for one player, albeit a 7-foot-1 giant. Edge: Lakers.

Another Queens native has left South Beach for colder pastures as Rafer Alston has packed his bags for the Toronto Raptors. Nicknamed “Skip to my Lou,” the former Cardozo standout has finally inked that long-term deal that has eluded him for so long.

He’s a “playground legend,” but that title has almost served as a scarlet letter for Alston and others like him. For NBA types, playground legend=und­isciplined hot dog, a stereotype Alston has fought since he entered the league in 1999.

And oh, yeah, lest I forget the Reebok ABCD camp, which had New York City high school sports reporters making the daily trek across the George Washington Bridge last week into Teaneck, N.J.

The camp, which switched sneaker sponsorship this year — it was known as the Adidas ABCD camp before founder Sonny Vaccaro bolted for rival Reebok — featured 230 of the top high school basketball players who were being evaluated by hundreds of college coaches.

It was also the first year there were three camps instead of the traditional two (Nike and Adidas).

That made for more exposure for some players who wouldn’t normally get invited, such as Bryant’s Salvadore Patricio or Drew Gladstone from Cardozo.

While some liken the sneaker company basketball camps to a literal meat market, that someone like Gladstone can get noticed from coaches who wouldn’t normally have that chance makes it all worthwhile.

Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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