Blake Ahearn didn’t bite on the invitation.
The Reno Bighorns combo guard was watching his former team play a game against the defending D-League champs, the Iowa Energy, that was postponed due the floor being deemed as unplayable.
Ahearn had to leave Tullio Arena with his fellow Bighorns to rest up for their game against the BayHawks tonight when Erie lead local investor Owen McCormick offered to take him out to dinner.
“I got to get some rest so I can put up 30 on you,” Ahearn said smiling.
“Got to show you how much I love,” Ahearn said while hugging him.
In his two seasons with Erie, Ahearn became a fan favorite for nailing threes, being automatic from the line and playing carefree. The day after the 2011 D-League Draft, the BayHawks traded him to Reno in a four-player deal that resulted in Erie getting Donald Sloan.
“I was shocked,” he said. “It was literally the last phone call I thought I would get, but it is what it is. Everybody knows that professional sports, stuff is a business. I mean, Peyton Manning. Look at that. That’s a perfect example. One of the best quarterbacks of all time. That’s just the nature of our business. It came as a shock and to me, the hardest part was leaving the relationships that you have. That’s the toughest part, but you make new ones in new places you go.”
Tonight at 7, Sloan and Ahearn, whom were teammates for Team USA in the 2011 Pan American Games, will square off at Tullio Arena.
“I’m ready for that game,” said Sloan on Thursday night.
Ahearn, who leads the D-League in scoring at 24.4 points a game, can’t wait either.
“We were roommates in training camp for the Pan Am Games,” Ahearn said. “For me, it’s just two great players playing against each other. Good competition. He’s one of the best point guards now that’s he back in the league. He’s one of the top guards and if you’re one of the best in the league, you want to play against the best so I think it will a fun game. Two good teams and both teams are looking for a win to try to stay in this playoff race. It should be a good game.”
Here’s what else Ahearn talked about Thursday night.
On playing against Erie: “It will be good. Obviously coming here, I get to a lot of my talking now and get it out of the way, which is good for me because I want to see a lot of people that I became good friends with. I’m glad I get to do that tonight and leave it for business tomorrow night. I’m excited. It’s good to be back. I made a lot of great friends and great relationships here. I’m excited.”
On how he and Andre Emmett are playing (Emmett is averaging 23.6 ppg. and is second in the D-League in scoring behind Ahearn): “It’s starts with our coach (former NBA player Paul Mokeski). He puts us in the positions to be successful. Myself and Emmett, we’re a tough 1-2 punch, but we’ve got other guys on our team who are NBA experienced. We’ve got a lot of good players that know how to play the game. The hard part for us there has been so much turnover. We lost Andre for a little bit. Bobby Simmons got called up. Mo Charlo was hurt.
“Throughout all that, you have your usual turnover in the D-League. So it’s been tough to kind of get a good chemistry going, but hopefully that’s what we’re pushing for here down the stretch. We’re going to see what happens.”
On playing against Kyle Goldcamp and Kyle Spain (Only two players left from last year’s BayHawks): “It’s going to be fun. I talked to Goldcamp right before I came up here. Spain and I are good friends. It’s always fun, but when you get on the floor, you’re ready to compete. Even (Erie coach Jay Larranaga and assistant Ben McDonald), I love those guys. It’s always fun to come back here. I’m grateful for everything Erie and the BayHawks have done for me. It’ll be fun.”
On having his free-throw streak with 110 consecutive free throws made (the generally-recognized pro record is 138 straight free throws made by legendary coach John Wooden when he played for the independent Indianapolis Kautskys (1934-36):
“To be honest with you, I was relieved it was over because I had no idea I broke the NBA record (97 by Michael Williams in 1992-1993) until the game was over. Once I had done that, I was probably getting three or four calls a week wanting to talk about it. Everyone calls me the free-throw guy for what I’ve done in college and even professional. I just think my game is so much more than just free throws, but it was nice.Obviously I wanted to keep it going as long as I could, but it ended and it’s time to start a new streak I guess.”