The 2006 McDonalds All-American Game was a magical event, filled with layups, missed jumpers, light defense, and Nick Cannon (the game’s half-time performer). There were players who went on to great things (Kevin Durant, the Lopez brothers, Mike Conley), and some that never quite made it (Demond Carter, Vernon Macklin, and James Keefe). Gerald Henderson led the East team with 16 points, while the Durant led the West—and all scorers—with 25 to earn co-MVP honors with his teammate Chase Budinger.
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Yeah, dude, Chase Budinger. He only scored 11, to go with four assists and three rebounds, but the the Carlsbad, Calif. native was a big hit with the sold-out crowd in nearby San Diego. The organizers of the event decided to throw him a bone and, evidently, a photo opp with Ronald McDonald.
Here, we’ve got three legends—Ronnie Mac, John Wooden (an advisor to the selection committee) and Budinger—standing next to some twig touching his trophy. On the left, you can see a peeved Daequan Cook, who scored 17 points but lost out on a chance to win the co-MVP award with Durant to Budinger, who could have fouled out five minutes in and received a standing ovation. You know what, though? It was probably Cook’s presence on the floor that allowed Durant to score 25 in the first place.
This was around the time that Cook peaked as a player player. He would go on to play for Thad Matta’s “Thad Five” at Ohio State, be selected just outside the lottery in the 2007 NBA draft and win the NBA Three-Point Shootout in just his second season. When he joined the Thunder in 2010, he passed all of his powers on to Durant, who would win his first of four scoring titles that year. Golden State fans probably have the Ohio native to thank if they take home a title in the Durant era.
This is a pretty great photo, because we get a clear look at the crowd in San Diego that day. With Chase Budinger out of the game, looking on in awe as Javaris Crittenton drives by Brook Lopez, some of these fans look terribly disinterested. A couple in the fifth row chats while two pals in the row behind them share a loud laugh. In the rows in front, some fans appear to be spacing out, one woman looks under her seat, presumably for a lost item, one guy picks his teeth, and one or two may even be sleeping. This is the best ‘Where’s Waldo’ game ever. Can you spot the dude in the upper right looking at—what is that, a tablet? They didn’t have tablets back then! This is surely a time-traveler.
One more thing—an event staffer needs to clear the aisles, pronto. Can’t have people sitting on the steps.
Speaking of disinterest, Darrell Arthur isn’t even looking at Scottie Reynolds, which is probably a bad omen for the rest of his career. My man couldn’t even get the time of day from an NBA team. He was memorably the first AP All-American not taken in the NBA draft since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. He landed in the Summer League, played fine there during the time he was healthy, and eventually made it to the D-League later in the year, where he dropped 30 in his first game and made it to the NBADL All-Star Game. Now he’s just making that cake overseas.
Sorry, Reynolds rant over. That old SI.com logo was cool, right?
This is a very cool camera angle, because each time a shot goes up, you can peer into the souls of the onlooking players. They all appear so helpless. Lance Thomas, pictured left, looks like he’s watching a man dunk for the first time. Or, perhaps he’s questioning whether or not Gerald Henderson (the dunker) is actually a high school student. Budinger is doing a poor job of crashing the glass (he can literally get away with anything in this game) and Lopez is ready to box the hell out of Greg Oden up top just in case this dunk pops all the way out to the arc. If Henderson threw down, this was a pretty cool game, really.