One of the few pictures that still adorns a wall inside the home of Tommy Smith’s parents is a Phoenix North High team shot in the late 1990s that includes Davin White.
They grew up as teammates, a dynamic outside (White) and inside (Smith) combination that was as feared as any in the state.
On Saturday, for the first time as pros, they’re facing each other on the court – with a million dollars on the line in The Basketball Tournament, which began early in July with former NBA, D-League and college players competing.
White, a 6-foot-1 guard, leads Team 23 against the 6-foot-10 Smith’s Ants Alumni on Saturday at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, in a semifinal. The winner plays the next day for the winner-take-all million.
“That’s my boy, but for this game he’s the enemy,” said Smith, who played at Arizona State.
Smith and White have remained close friends since they ended their high school career at North. While Smith went onto ASU in 1999, White started out at Chandler-Gilbert Community College in 2001, before playing at Cal State-Northridge.
Smith, 34, was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft. White, 33, was undrafted.
Both have gotten close to the NBA. Smith was in the D-League; White was signed to the Suns’ 2006 training camp roster.
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But it’s been overseas where they’ve made much of their money playing basketball, while keeping Phoenix as their home.
Even though their travels have taken them to various parts of the world, they have never met up on the court as teammates or opponents since high school.
“I’d rather have him on my team than playing against him,” White said.
White said as much as the money matters (each player on the winning team will get $80,000 after the $1 million is divvied up), he says this is more for bragging rights and “putting Arizona on the map.”
“Arizona has always been underrated as a state for basketball,” said White, who still plays professionally in Spain.
White, who led his team last week with 18 points in the quarterfinals of the TBT, said he still aspires to playing in the NBA, but he knows his window has narrowed at his age.
“I still think about the NBA,” he said. “I’m getting older now. I know I still can play in the league if I got the chance. It’s just about the opportunity. Once you get older, if you’re not winning a championship overseas, if you’re not one of the greatest players overseas, it’s hard to get look at.”
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White said that he has been joking with Smith, whose team a couple of years ago won the D-League championship, about this Saturday’s matchup.
“He talked to one of my teammates and said, ‘We know all of your plays,’ ” White said. “They’ve got a good team. It’s going to be fun.”
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