I used to play juco ball across town from the University of Illinois, and we would play pickup ball against them in the summer sometimes. Deron Williams, Brian Cook, that whole crew. There were a few players from that team that ended up seeing time in the league. Also played against Shawn Marion and John Amaechi at an LA Fitness in Tempe. Played against Donovan McNabb at that same LA Fitness, and I honestly came away more impressed by him than any of the NBA players I’ve played against, including DWill. He had serious game. This would have been around 2000, 2001, something like that.
I played against Antoine Walker when I worked his basketball camp one summer in Chicago, but I barely count it. The counselors played a little pickup ball one day and he mostly just fucked around, shot deep threes, and played no defense – about what you would expect. He wasn’t going hard at all. Played against Nick Johnson at LifeTime Fitness in Tempe just before he was drafted (so like three years ago maybe?), and he was tearing it up. He was easily the best player in the gym, and going the hardest too. I was such a fan of his after that.
I’ve also played against a bunch of NFL players, mostly Cardinals or former Cardinals, because the LifeTime in Tempe is pretty close to the Cardinals practice stadium and a lot of those guys will play pickup ball there in the offseason. Calais Campbell was a regular for a couple years – that dude is humongous. Simeon Rice used to play there all the time, but I haven’t seen him in a couple years. John Skelton used to be a regular there, too. The best of them was probably Tyrann Mathieu or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (along with McNabb, who I mentioned earlier, but that was at LA Fitness). Skelton could play too – he’s a lot bigger than you’d think, and pretty skilled – but the rest of the NFL guys weren’t all that great.