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"The girls came. They was free and abundant" - John Salley shares the best part about the NBA Summer League in the '80s

In terms of the basketball itself, John Salley said it was an opportunity for young players and unsigned free agents to showcase their talents to perhaps get the attention of general managers and scouts.
John Salley

John Salley

Before the annual NBA Summer League took place in Las Vegas, the tournament was held in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles. But unlike in this era, it wasn't televised, nor was it as glamorous as it is today.

Former NBA player and 4-time champion John Salley recalled that there were barely any news outlets covering the Summer League in the '80s, and players back then didn't have the same privileges (in terms of hotel accommodation) that they do now.

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A Summer League experience John Sally won't forget.

However, something Salley will never forget about his Summer League experience during his era was the abundant woman that flocked to the location. According to the big man, the best part about the summer exhibition games back then was not the parties, entertainment, and get-togethers (because it wasn't a thing back then) but the escorts throwing themselves at the professional basketball players.

"The only thing you got at the league, the Summer League, which was the best when it was in Los Angeles... right there in Marina Del Rey. The girls came. They was free. And they were abundant. Beautiful women that you could be like, you know, you could do that with. That was all the life you were going to get. There wasn't even news channels there," Salley admitted in his appearance on the VladTV podcast.

In terms of the basketball itself, Salley said it was an opportunity for young players and unsigned free agents to showcase their talents to perhaps get the attention of general managers and scouts. It wasn't a big deal back in the day unless the likes of Magic Johnson or any superstar wanted to get in free runs and enjoy their time in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles.

The growth of the NBA's Summer League

Before the Summer League was held in Las Vegas in 2004, there was never really an organized structure as it wasn't coordinated the way it is now. The Summer League may have been going for a decade, but the location constantly changed from Orlando to Sacramento to San Francisco. The only time all 30 teams started participating was in 2018, when the league built enough sponsors and rebranded the tournament.

Today, the Las Vegas Summer League is one of the most anticipated events because it gives executives, reporters, and fans a first glimpse of the upcoming rookies and young players in the league. Unlike during Salley's time, it's now more or less a two-week-wide event full of entertainment, get-togethers, and events outside of basketball. Like the NBA, its summer exhibition games have grown over time and present more opportunities than back in the day. 

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