Erie BayHawks center Jarvis Gunter did so on a pick and was left to defend the 2008-09 NBA MVP: LeBron James.
“I got caught guarding him on a switch for a couple of seconds, but he passed it,” Gunter said. “I just trying to keep him in front of me. Not let him get past me.”
Along with former Gannon senior center Kyle Goldcamp, Gunter has been traveling to Cleveland Clinic Courts to play against the Cleveland Cavaliers in pick-up games to help the Cavaliers get ready for training camp.
Gunter has got his share of training out of it as well
The 6-foot-10 center didn’t play much his first season with the BayHawks last year. Coming out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Gunter averaged just three points in 38 games.
Having an easy going personality often gave off the impression Gunter wasn’t into the games as much, but in reality, he wasn’t as confident in his abilities to play on the professional level.
This experience with the Cavaliers is giving him confidence.
“I’m starting to think that I can play against a lot of NBA guys,” Gunter said. “I’m starting to prove to myself that I belong on the court the with LeBron and all of them. Hopefully this will help me motivate myself to one day get (an NBA call-up from the D-League).”
Gunter has been taking the open jumper he made countless times in practice last season. He’s gotten to the point where scoring over Cleveland second-year forwards Darnell Jackson and J.J. Hickson is not a big deal because in his mind, he should be doing so. Jackson played two games for the BayHawks last season.
“If I’m playing good against them, then I feel good about myself,” Gunter said.
A strength of Gunter’s has always been running the floor. For a man his height, Gunter runs like someone 10 inches shorter. The Cavaliers have noticed him sprinting past them for buckets.
“‘I think a lot of them have been impressed how fast I can run,” Gunter said. “This on the first day. (Cleveland guard) Daniel Gibson looked as me like, he’s fast. He gave me that certain look.”
Since Gunter is doing an internship with the BayHawks, he’s going to get a training camp invite. He’ll likely make team and enter the season playing with more self assurance.
Still, seeing James has left him a bit star struck.
“It’s been a great experience,” Gunter said. “Unbelievable. Just being on the same court with him. But it really didn’t kick in that we were playing against LeBron until after we got done.”
Gunter recalls a dunk James had by saying, “He took off for a dunk like he does on TV, which was unbelievable. He was hitting jumpers from like half court without any effort.”
And next week, Gunter may get a chance to 1-on-1 with the big fella - Shaquille O’Neal.
“I heard one of the players say he might be in (this Monday),” Gunter said.
- Duane Rankin