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Life in the NBADL: Paying dues and paying tolls

Daniel Orton and other Thunder players who have spent time with the NBADL's Tulsa 66ers talk about surviving life in basketball's minor league.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 9, 2013

Having discipline extends to the basketball court.

The Thunder has more than a dozen coaches and staff members who help with player development, but the 66ers have only three coaches. Players don't receive as much individualized attention in Tulsa and have to take responsibility for getting in extra work.

Despite the differences in the D-League, the Thunder players who've spent time there have flourished. Reggie Jackson and DeAndre Liggins, for example, parlayed short stints with the 66ers into the backup duties with the Thunder, and Lamb has been named to the D-League All-Star Game.

“Both places, you can get better and really work on your game,” said Lamb, who has averaged 21.1 points in 14 games with the 66ers. “It's really helped my game, so I can't be mad at it.”

What he can be miffed about is how he and the rest of the players have to travel when they're with the 66ers. The Thunder flies to road games via private jet, but the 66ers fly commercial. That means going through airport security, making connections and hoping for a good seat.

Basically, it's a hassle just like it is for the rest of us.

The difference?

These guys are tall.

Even though the 66ers fly first class with bigger seats and more legroom whenever possible, they often have to use smaller planes when they're flying in and out of Tulsa.

“You learn to deal with it,” Orton said.

How does a 6-10 guy do that?

“I actually like windows,” Orton said of the window seats. “Try to lean up against it and go to sleep.”

The 6-11 Jones prefers exit rows and said, “I'm cool if I get the window. I don't want to sit in the middle. They don't let you get the arm rest. You're squished.”

He demonstrated, rolling his shoulders in and bringing his arms together.

Life in the D-League is not as comfortable as it is in the NBA. Not as easy. Not as posh. However, it does give the players who've live in both worlds a new appreciation for the good thing that they have in the NBA.

“You have to deal with it,” Orton said of going to the D-League. “Don't think. Just go.”

And don't forget to pay the toll.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at