Summer League Rumors
Given what Ray had been through, just making it to summer league was a remarkable feat — something no other Philippine-born player has done.1 But “first Filipino to play in NBA summer league” is a backhanded compliment of a career achievement, and Ray, driven by the memory of his father and the support of millions of Filipinos, said he’s aiming even higher: “It’s something that I really, really want — to make it to the NBA. It started off as just me and my dad with a dream. Now it’s the whole country behind me.”
“Every day he’s getting better,” Altamirano said. “He’s more relaxed, he’s more assertive. I think, down the line, you can see that he can play in the NBA.” And for now, that remains Ray’s plan. He kept his name out of this year’s PBA draft, which means he’ll hope for an invite to an NBA training camp, and if he can’t make a team outright, then he’ll look to gain further seasoning in the D-League or in Europe. Because he showed the ability to compete with world-class talent at the high school level, there’s reason to hope that Ray’s game might blossom as he acclimates to elite professional basketball.
It was an impossible decision. When Parks Sr. had moved back to Memphis in 2005 and eventually had Ray join him, it was with his son’s basketball future in mind. “The dream was always for Ray Ray to play in the U.S. NCAA and eventually the NBA,” said Ronnie Magsanoc, Parks Sr.’s friend and former PBA teammate. Relocating to Manila would limit Ray’s exposure to other athletes with NBA-caliber size and athleticism, and perhaps make it impossible for Ray to return to elite U.S. basketball. At the same time, Parks Sr. had a family to support, and the opportunity in the Philippines would allow him to do that. Not to mention that forging close ties with the Sy family could benefit his family for decades to come.
It was the beginning of a 12-year career in the Philippines for Parks Sr., who transferred to Shell Rimula-X (owned by the gas company) and became the team’s regular import, teaming with locals Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras to form the PBA’s “Awesome Threesome.” He won the league’s Best Import award a record seven times, and he won all seven in a row. He posted the gargantuan numbers that were expected of PBA imports in that era: Averages of 43 points and 16 rebounds during his Best Import streak and a career-high scoring average of 52.6 points per game in 1989. He set the bar for himself so high that in 1992, the PBA yearbook lamented that Parks Sr. “averaged a mere 39.9 points per game.”
Q: What did you see, if anything, that was different about the Knicks’ offense during the summer league compared to what you saw last season? Walt Frazier: Sometimes in summer league they weren’t using the triangle and they seemed to have better continuity. When they go to the triangle they seem to be more methodical, apprehensive. So that’s what the coaching staff has got to work out. Q: Do you think that sticking solely with the triangle, as the Knicks did last year, would work if they weren’t as methodical or do you think it’s wise to work in some pick and roll to speed things up? Walt Frazier: You’ve got to have versatility, especially with the guys that they have. They’re not as adept as the guys Jackson has had in the past. If that’s not working, you’ve got to go to Plan B.
Veterans with four or more years of service are at a clear disadvantage when it comes to preparing for training camp. The current rules state that only rookies and minimum players with three years or less in the league can be reimbursed for travel, meals and lodging for the four weeks leading up to camp. If you are Reggie Williams of the San Antonio Spurs and have six years of service in the NBA, then you are on your own dime getting prepared for training camp.