NBA Summer Vacation Watch: MVP and team of the summer

These NBA stars certainly aren't wasting the final days of summer. (Instagram)
These NBA stars certainly aren't wasting the final days of summer. (Instagram)

Well folks, this is it. What we all knew was coming but were reluctant to admit to ourselves was growing all the while on the golden horizon of summer—training camps, and just beyond those, creeping up with all the subtlety of a Lakers fan, the NBA season.

While you might feel like starting a petition to the league to make the offseason 11 months long after what was probably the greatest NBA summer vacation season ever, I implore you, don’t. What makes NBA summer vacation so special is how fleeting, how short in its sabbatical scope when compared to, like, baseball.

If there’s a nip in the air where you are when you read this last roundup I ask that you please close your eyes and turn your face to the sun, take a breath and take in the last of the summer’s glorious light before it fades like the healthy glow and potentially weird tan lines it gave you. And as you harvest this last crop cabanas and whitewater rafting accidents remember to look back at the bounty this summer has given us, because it’s time for the NBA Summer Vacation Awards. Read all the way through to get to the winners. Thank you for reading and another sweet summer.

Kevin Love

Love got a little The River Wild less a couple fugitives on his trip to Wyoming this week. After settling in at a pretty deec looking home on the range, Love and his girlfriend, Kate Bock, went whitewater rafting. The raft capsized and Bock hit her head (maybe on Love’s head, maybe on some river rocks) and had to go to hospital to have it stapled shut. As is his won’t, Love stayed rockin’ throughout. Then they went to a rodeo and cracked a can of cold certified Coors Light. Did you know that scientifically there’s nothing colder than cold certified? A summer fact, for you. Then, not satisfied until he lassoed me by the heart, Love went ahead and got on a horse, making it impossible for me to ever say a mean thing about his vacations ever again.

Rating: There isn’t an officiator in the entire National Basketball Association who will be able to withstand Kevin Love whispering in their ear this season to “Get along little dogie” before whistles fall from their quivering mouths.

CJ McCollum

Say ciao bella to your butts because CJ McCollum is still in Italy, still on vacation, and still enjoying the hellissimo out of life. Our guy puttered around many a piazza, made some pasta, came correct with the perfect ‘fit every single day, took in some vistas that would make you choke on your Chianti and generally got into a groove of looking completely comfortable doing an Italian job of summer vacation. (And then, THEN, in the middle of writing this, here’s CJ popping up again off another coast, in Greece, doing backflips off a boat and giving us earnest inspirational summer idioms while hanging upside down above the Aegean or Sea of Crete, depending on where his feet hit first).

Rating: Italian job of summer vacation like, he killed it. Do you get it?

Jayson Tatum

Tatum was in Australia with Team USA, not a vacation I know, but he took his son to a petting zoo and Tatum’s own reactions were better than the baby’s. May we all feed lettuce leaves so fearlessly to the big, tall, looming maw of life, and may the lemur in the first photo be you this long weekend.

Rating: Can you even buy a zoo in Australia or do all these things just come with deciding to live there?

Klay Thompson

Klay in love in France alert! No idea why it took so long to realize Thompson is exactly the person who keeps their long-planned trip to France a secret from all, only to return and get back to work wearing berets and reading the same battered copy of The Stranger while chugging back bowl-sized cafe au laits, complaining constantly about Macron, but with a national pride that burns so hot it will consume him.

Rating: It’s a really cute trip.

Kyle Kuzma

Kuz was at it again. And by it I mean flying around in private helicopters, looking pretty smug about it.

Rating: Make sure you’re always wearing a watch in the solo chop ride so you know you don’t have time for these haters.

Jarrett Allen

This makes The Creation of Adam look like trash. Sorry Mister Angelo, but Big Jay is your new god and this giraffe his beautiful gangly son.

Rating: Shortly after this photo was taken Jarrett Allen went to get his haircut and brought a poster size picture of him blocking LeBron with him. I don’t know how to convince you any more than this that angels are real.

D’Angelo Russell

Wow. It’s like the little devil and angel on your shoulder, but the giraffe version with Jarrett Allen as the angel and D’Angelo Russell, the devil. There is also maybe such a thing as getting too into wine over a summer, and here we are seeing it manifest in real time as Russell offers a sip of his Malbec to a giraffe.

Rating: It’s one TALL order to get a giraffe into Malbec, if they’re going to drink anything it’s a Shiraffe. So sorry.

Myles Turner

Yes, Myles Turner is another player who happened to be in Australia for FIBA, so not technically on vacation. But what Turner has done is like an Inception summer vacation or just like a work trip, really, really well.

First, him and some of the other Team USA guys went out on a cruise in Sydney Harbour. Myles then Turner’d the boat around, getting on the controls and looking like a natural in a hat which could have been the Captain’s, a prop, or gifted to him—all outcomes I would be happy with. A photoshoot naturally followed. Not yet done with this late-August interlude, Turner headed to the Qudos Bank Arena, where he had backstage passes to see Fleetwood Mac. There was a precious video of him singing ‘Gypsy’ to himself, before the grand finale, which was him going on stage as a roadie to hand, I think, John McVie a guitar.

Rating: The kind of summer you get back to school and try to tell your friends about and no one believes you, until Mick Fleetwood shows up and is like, “You forgot the lucky pick I gave you.” Hope that happens here.

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Minnesota Timberwolves went to the Bahamas! Yeah they did some gym stuff, some scrimmage stuff, but they also did wonderful vacation stuff. Like force all their rookies to do karaoke, and then force them to repeat the song when they didn’t fully commit. Also paddle board around the next day, on Naz Reid’s birthday, which was maybe his birthday wish. Karl-Anthony Towns went to Hawaii earlier this summer and while it looked like a nice trip, it was a solitary one, and boy oh boy was he ever waiting for a trip like this where he could come up with a hashtag and make everybody use it.

Rating: I saw Karl-Anthony Towns heckle rookies in a subliminally lit bar, their pitch was perfect/AWWOOOOOOOO, BAHAMAS WOLVES OF MINNESOTA

Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell was the first one to start posting pics of him posted up poolside with vacation drinks, and even if this is like an oxidized vegetable-based protein shake, I don’t care, because that’s a piña colada lean if I’ve ever seen one.

Rating: I saw Jordan Bell drinking an oxidized vegetable based protein shake poolside, his hair was perfect/AWWOOOOO, BAHAMAS WOLVES OF MINNESOTA

Zach LaVine

Big surprise twist to team time! Zach LaVine was also in the Bahamas, but on a totally nuclear family trip (vs. the familial bonds of team brotherhood). Well, the #BahamasWolves got wind of it, and they basically acquired LaVine for a late addition to their summer vacation. Another NBA Summer Vacation Watch first.

Rating: I Saw Zach LaVine walking with his mom, doin’ the Bahamas wolves of Minnesota.

JaVale McGee

Last week Anthony Davis threw out the first pitch at a Dodgers game and JaVale decided there wasn’t enough of a rivalry already, that he wanted this town to rip itself apart.

Rating: I like the hang loose gesture as you’re inciting city-wide antagonism that is going to rip entire families apart, a fun touch!

Fred VanVleet

Fred, who CANNOT get enough of vacations, took his whole family down to the Cayman Islands. He almost seemed a bit oversaturated with vacation, if there can be such a thing, until he submerged himself in his vacation hat in the water with a stingray. The wonder he felt was so strong it was like he forgot he was the toughest guy in the world for a second.

Rating: Jk, it’s extremely tough and cool to care about the fate of our oceans.

Ben Simmons

Sometimes summer vacation isn’t going anywhere. Sometimes it’s sitting in traffic, mind sort of wandering, and being taken away by a thought you have or a sight you see. In this case, a Chewbacca crossing the street.

Rating: But Ben Simmons is Australian and this kind of thing happens there all the time.

Terrence Ross


TRoss was in Kensington Market, a neighbourhood of Toronto that Paul Pierce frequented during the Finals, to go to a place called Rasta Pasta.

Rating: Where was Terrence going, I wondered?

Patrick Patterson

Why, to his friend and former teammate Patrick Patterson’s wedding of course!! 2Pats got married in a big fake castle in Toronto. Fake because it was built after castles had fallen way out of style, but a rich guy got jealous Canada wasn’t old enough to have them and built his own in 1911. This wedding had fireworks, a photobooth, Paul George looking sleepy, and from an inside source, I know who was there: lobster ravioli.

Rating: Congratulations, Patrick!

Zaza Pachulia

Zaza tried to do a Kevin Love-style ride down a mountain. He even wore a sweater around his shoulders like city-Kevin Love might because I guess he didn’t get the memo that Kevin is a cowboy now. But what Zaza lacked in finesse he made up in scenery, specifically, some breathtaking-ass mountains chilling in the distance.

Rating: I hope he picked up this tired little horse and ran it back down the mountain.

Bismack Biyombo

Biz in a pool wishing himself a happy birthday is a very positive affirmation that the rest of us have been doing it wrong our whole lives.

Rating: And the spray of water is coming from… everywhere?

Terry Rozier (and Danny Green)

Terry and Danny were doing some camps and Puma promotion in China and Taiwan, and while camps don’t usually count here, the unrestrained excitement Rozier showed at meeting a really questionable, really scary—wildcat? Ocelot? Blonde werewolf?—mascot makes the whole thing pretty memorable.

Rating: Terry also had a sincere interest in getting that mascot suit and really bringing the nickname Scary Terry up a notch, considering he is pretty approachable these days.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

It’s fitting to end this dispatch, the last of the summer, with another mysterious vacation postcard photo from Tim. This one would show up in your mailbox with a condensation ring in one corner with small grains of sand still stuck to it, the whole thing smelling like jasmine and pampas grass, a couple orange grease specks from a taco eaten directly over it. I’m really gonna miss these.

Rating: It would also show up inexplicably four months from now, in December, when you needed it the most.

NBA Summer Vacation Watch Awards

Here it is, the culmination of months of zero hard work and the most and best accumulated leisure time: the NBA Summer Vacation Watch awards. Traditionally, this has been just one award—NBA SVW MVP—but for how lofty the heights reached by this year’s vacations, individually and collectively, a new category is being introduced: Best Team Summer. That is, the best summer vacations scored altogether by members of the same NBA team.

Best Team Summer: Portland Trailblazers

These guys came out as scorching to summer as their namesake but it wasn’t just Damian Lillard doing Instagram Live videos every day for a week from an undisclosed infinity pool, or CJ McCollum’s hellisimo yes approach to Italy and now Greece. It was Hassan Whiteside falling into a deep friendship with a koi fish named Party Boy Steve, Kent Bazemore’s gigantic Uno tournament, McCollum doing reverse donuts on a mobility scooter in the grocery store until he apologetically ran into a woman—it was the feeling of this team as it took to the summer like a bunch of Party Boy Steves, all out in one big, global pond called summer vacation.

NBA Summer Vacation Watch MVP: Mike Scott

Picture me with a body covered in bees because the Mike Scott Hive has got me. This one was admittedly a slow start, with Scott not entering the MVP race until late July when he crashed a random Philadelphia wedding. After that he went silent for another week or so, losing what looked like precious to no time. But what I understand now is that Mike Scott is beholden to no calendar, like he is beholden to no man. Mike Scott wants to try every mode of air transport you can strap to your body in one day, while in the jungle, he’s gonna do it. He wants to dress up as a luchador and go to a tiny Mexican island to pose in the streets? He’s already doing it, he’s done. He wants to get an ice cream truck and take it downtown and give away ice cream all day? He’s never running out of your favourite flavour. Congratulations, Mike Scott, you made summer vacation yours but really, all of ours.

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