The presence of the abundance of D-League alum showing up on NBA rosters during training camp this fall reminds us what the NBADL is all about: snagging that coveted roster spot and/or receiving that oh so valuable call-up.
While the slew of talent competes for the chance to break into the NBA, it's easy to forget that as it watches its players evolve and move on to greener pastures, the D-League still carries on with business as usual as best it can.
Even minor league players hit the hardwood, all the while making a livelihood off the salaries they make. They have families to support and feed, just as D-League franchises have fan bases in need of satisfying their cravings for competitive and exciting basketball in cities not hosting NBA squads.
NBADL veteran Ron Howard is perhaps the poster child for embracing the D-League with open arms as a place to call home. The guard has spent most of the past five seasons with the Mad Ants, becoming an all-star in the league, and also holds the all the more impressive feat of standing tall as the team's all-time leading scorer.
Prepared to turn 30 years old next month, Howard is coming off a 2011-12 campaign in which he averaged 17.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. He also happened to shoot a solid 48% from the field through 31 contests.
And after finding so much success in Fort Wayne over the years, Howard will return to the team (located in the city he now calls his home) next season.
The Mad Ants welcomed their veteran guard back with a press release Thursday, praising Howard for not only his contributions on the court, but to the local community as well.
Mad Ants President, Jeff Potter, added, "We are very excited to announce that Ron will, once again, be donning a Mad Ants jersey. He is not only a great player, he’s a great person and a wonderful role model for young people in Fort Wayne. I’m proud that Ron has become the face of the Mad Ants organization."
Ron and his wife, Reesha, reside in Fort Wayne with their two daughters, Chloe and Peyton. They run Game Day Sports Camp, a summer camp for local children grades K-8.
Recognizing Howard as a role model reminds NBA and D-League fans alike that talented players can be celebrated, as they deserve to be, in smaller markets too. Whereas casual NBA fans may keep track of the Mad Ants' progress, with the sole mentality to scout out potential call-ups, there's also a more local fan base that calls Howard a star, or as many have labeled him, "Mr. Mad Ant."
Despite easing into the Fort Wayne community and emerging as a stable team leader, Howard himself is also no stranger to the NBA dream. He's taken on stints overseas, and has also come close to joining squads like the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks in past seasons.
It's safe to say the team and its community is looking forward to having him back in the fold once again.