Teacher Jonathon Day shows his jumping ability on the basketball court
Mr. Day shows off his dunking skills on the basketball court. Photo: John Morrison, Dean Papastrat

On Jan. 24, Pace Academy’s Boyd Gym served as the practice facility for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, who were in Atlanta for a game against the Hawks that evening. Several Pace Academy faculty members were able to watch the practice, including a few who frequent the Pace Academy Pick-Up Basketball Association (PAPUBA). After the practice ended, a deal was struck: the Spurs will return to Pace to play an exhibition game against the members of PAPUBA at the end of their season.

The official date for the matchup has not been set in stone, but it will be sometime after April 16, when the Spurs play their final regular season game against the Milwaukee Bucks. “Our tentative date is Friday, April 25th, but we’ll have to push it back if the Spurs make the playoffs,” said Matt and Wes Fortier in unison, “Whenever it is, we’re going to be ready to go.”

While the full, 12-man roster has not been finalized, the PAPUBA squad has already announced its starting lineup. Jonathan Day will start at point guard, and Jason Smith will return to Pace for the day of the game in order to start at shooting guard. Wes and Matt Fortier will start at small forward and power forward, respectively. Kevin Ballard will play center.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is expected to make use of all of his best players against PAPUBA, citing the immense challenge that his team will face. Despite this, the members of PAPUBA feel that they are at no disadvantage. “I really like the matchup of Kevin Ballard on Tim Duncan,” said Gus Whyte, who is expected to see significant playing time as a guard for PAPUBA, “Yeah, Tim’s got a bit of a height advantage, but Kevin can hold strong. That beard carries a lot of weight on the court. Just look at James Harden.”

In a recent press conference, members of both teams weighed in on the matchup. “I’m excited for the opportunity to return to Atlanta and play against PAPUBA,” said Spurs shooting guard Danny Green, “The last time we were at Pace Academy, we played well. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum over to this game.” For the players of PAPUBA, the tone was a bit more presumptuous. “The Spurs are going down,” said Mr. Day, “They can’t hang with us.”

The game will be played in the Inman Center, the home court of PAPUBA. Tipoff was originally scheduled for 6:30 a.m., the usual start time for PAPUBA games, but it is likely to be moved to early afternoon after pushback from the Spurs. “A 6:30 in the morning game?  That’s absurd!” said point guard Tony Parker. “Tá doido?!” added center Tiago Splitter in his native tongue. Regardless of the time, use of their home court will serve PAPUBA well. In addition, the distance that the Spurs will have to travel presents itself as an advantage for every member of the PAPUBA squad except for Mr. Ballard, who will still have to endure his ridiculous commute from Athens that morning.

It is still unclear who will serve as head coach for the PAPUBA squad. Pace varsity boys basketball coach Demetrius Smith is a leading candidate, but was recently cited by an anonymous member of the team as “too mainstream.” Pace alumnus and former Southern Illinois University basketball standout Josh Swan submitted his name for consideration to Mr. Day, but received an email in reply that simply read, “lol.”

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