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Husky legends return for vintage hoops show at UW Alumni Game
Brandon Roy, Terrence Ross and Isaiah Thomas highlighted the four-hour event at Alaska Airlines Arena that exceeded coach Lorenzo Romar’s expectations.
Seattle Times staff reporter
In a matchup made in Husky heaven, Brandon Roy — wearing his old No. 3 — rocked Terrence Ross off balance with a crossover dribble before stepping back and elevating for a midrange jumper.
It was a vintage Roy move with one exception — his attempt fell short of the rim.
The shot missed, but just about everything else with Washington’s first men’s basketball alumni event Sunday was on target.
A sold-out crowd at Alaska Airlines Arena was treated to a four-hour hoops festival that allowed fans a chance to see their favorites on the court while players reminisced about the glory days.
“I probably had as much fun — if not more — than the crowd,” Roy said. “They were into it, which got us players into it. That was amazing to see the turnout and to know there’s so much love for this team.
“I think people got to see the best of this program.”
Perhaps the only thing missing was a storybook performance from Roy, whose NBA comeback attempt lasted just five games last season due to a chronic knee injury.
After scoring 13 points in the Alumni Game, the Husky legend stopped short of announcing his retirement, but said, “My days of playing basketball at a high, high level are over.”
Still Roy drew the loudest applause during the pregame announcements as players pointed to his jersey hanging in the rafters. Bob Houbregs’ No. 25 is the only other retired number.
Roy was the sentimental favorite and X-factor.
If he could reclaim the old magic that made him a three-time NBA All-Star, then maybe the White team comprised of older Huskies would have won as Will Conroy promised.
Instead, the young legs ran away with this one.
Led by Isaiah Thomas’ 24 points, the Purple team pulled away in the final minutes and claimed a 107-103 victory.
“I’ve got bragging rights for a whole year,” said Thomas, who won the MVP award. “That’s what it’s about. We tried to put on a good show and I think we did that.”
The game was filled with a heavy dose of high-flying dunks from Ross, high-arcing three-pointers from Tre Simmons and a surprising 36 fouls.
Coach Lorenzo Romar, who helped organize the event, promised a competitive game and he got it — until the end.
The White team led 83-82 before the Purple squad used a 12-6 run to take a 100-89 lead.
Tony Wroten Jr. scored 19 points, Quincy Pondexter added 17 and Justin Dentmon chipped in 11 for the Purple team.
The White team received 23 points from Simmons while Spencer Hawes (21) and Mike Jensen (10) also scored in double figures.
“It’s going to be hard for me because I live four houses away from Tony,” said Conroy, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and 10 turnovers. “They got us this year.”
No one enjoyed themselves more than Romar. He hoped the event would attract 5,000, and was overwhelmed by the turnout. Several fans were turned away outside the arena and concessions ran out shortly after halftime.
“We’ll decide on if we’ll do it again, but you sure made a case for doing it again,” Romar told the crowd. “It was very gratifying when all of these guys were asked to come to participate in this event; none of them hesitated.”
Pondexter, who was in Singapore for an NBA Cares event, flew seven hours to Tokyo and eight hours to Seattle before landing in the morning.
“I did it for my love for coach Romar and my love for the University of Washington,” said Pondexter. “It was no question I was going to be here. I have so much love for this city and for this community and for this university. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Bobby Jones, who plays for Virtus Roma in the Italian League, flew from Rome and arrived minutes before the start.
“It was worth it because this is something I never thought was possible,” Jones said. “To get all of us back out here, man, that’s incredible.”
• Darnell Gant upset Ross, the reigning NBA slam dunk champion, to win the dunk contest. Gant bounced the ball high off the shot clock behind the basket before retrieving the ball in the air and flushing a two-hand jam. Wroten threw a pass from the top row of the first level stands that bounced off the floor before Ross spiked a windmill jam.
In the last round, Gant finished with a 360 dunk while Ross missed four attempts before hammering one in. Fans voted Gant the winner via Twitter.
• Four-star 2014 prospect Zylan Cheatham, a 6-foot-7 forward from Phoenix, attended Sunday’s game.
• Fans included NBA players Jamal Crawford, Nick Collison, actor Jim Caviezel, Sonics legend Slick Watts and Peyton Siva, who won the NCAA basketball title in April with Louisville.