UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Since its inception in 2006, the King of Kings Basketball league has been the summer playground for some of the Syracuse Orange's biggest names. Brandon Triche played in the league two years ago and has returned again in 2011, leading JD's Finest.
"Definitely a great experience to play with the guys," Triche said on opening night Wednesday. "Going up to JD and playing pickup, we're going against each other a little bit, but to come back with the team, we won states with many of these guys. It's definitely going to be a great time."
Kris Joesph, Rick Jackson and Scoop Jardine all competed in the league in past years, as did Josh Wright, who played for both Proctor and SU. So it's become somewhat of a tradition for Orange stars to come to Utica for the summer.
"There's nothing better than just to show it," says Triche. "There's fans out here, it's a great time, there's music, got food, got people who want to see you play, so it's definitely a great time and I'm thankful for King of Kings."
The atmosphers is much different than most of the players are used to, but that makes it that much more exciting for the players and fans, too. That's why some of the top players all over the state compete in King of Kings, such as Dave Golembiowski, a graduate of both Holland Patent and SUNYIT, Scott Knapp from VVS and Sean Burton from Notre Dame, all of whom play for Upstate Swagger. Another former Juggler, Pat Moore, who now plays at Colgate, is on Triche's team. Also spotted among the crowd today but who will be taking the floor this season are Matt Welch from state champion NY Mills, as well as Walkery and Maurice Mills from Proctor.
"You really don't get a league like that, where you're playing games, keeping score and there's entertainment involved as well, so it's a lot of fun," says Moore.
"It's fun to go up against them to see how you stack up," adds Golembiowski. "If you can play well against them you know you're a pretty good player, but it's very tough. Those guys are very good."
The league's mission is to inspire positive change through basketball, and to teach peace and unity. But they also want fans and their players to have fun at the games.
"If they're a basketball fan and they want to see good basketball, come out for this," says Burton, who has returned from his second season playing pro basketball in Iceland after four years at Ithaca College. "You won't find better basketball in the state, who knows maybe the country. You've got a lot of great players coming in and playing."
The league, which plays their games every Monday and Wednesday into August, will continue next week at Utica College, but will move over to Notre Dame after that. The women's league begins Tuesday at UC, then moves to Notre Dame every Tuesday after that.