The Seattle-Pro-Am is in its 21st season after it was founded in 1996 by former NBA player and Seattle native Doug Christie. The summer league serves as a platform for local athletes and also has drawn a number of NBA stars, such as Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Spencer Hawes, Zach LaVine and Isaiah Thomas in past years and had nine teams last year.
“I’ve never competed in the Pro-Am before, and I don’t know that this is a perfect solution,” Slam general manager Kip Leonetti said in a phone interview. “I was sold on the idea by Tyler Amaya, our coach, who has played down there the last couple of years and spoke about the quality of the league and the players they bring in. ... I think it’s something where we’re looking forward to this year, and we will re-evaluate after the season.”
The biggest drawback to the league is that all games will be played from July 2 through late August at the Royal Brougham Pavilion on the Seattle Pacific University campus.
Leonetti said he wants to make sure the Slam doesn’t lose touch with its Bellingham roots, and said he is exploring the option of playing exhibition games in Whatcom County. The team also will play a team of Western Washington University alumni in mid May.
“We’re going to do as much as we can up here,” Leonetti said. “I’ve already heard from some fans who said they were looking forward to heading down to Seattle every weekend to watch us play. We’re going to do what we can to keep that excitement going.”
The Slam, which began play in the American Basketball Association in 2005-06, has been without a league since it won the final three International Basketball League titles before the league changed its focus in 2014.