The Grand Rapids Drive minor league basketball team practices at the Calvin College gym. Courtesy Calvin
The Grand Rapids Drive have formed another partnership ahead of their first tip-off.
With the NBA Development League team’s inaugural season beginning on Saturday in Bakersfield, Calif., the Drive needed a place to practice because its home court, the DeltaPlex, also hosts other events.
Calvin College stepped in to offer the Drive a place to practice: the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Athletic Complex.
“When the assistant general manager of the Pistons and some of their front office people came for a visit, they were blown away by our facilities,” said Jim Timmer, Calvin’s men’s athletic director. “Because they practice in the morning when our building isn't being used, it was a situation that worked out.”
As part of the partnership, Calvin will receive advertising space at the DeltaPlex during home games and opportunities for the school’s sports management program to witness day-to-day operations at the professional level.
"As part of this deal, there will be opportunities for our sports management majors," Timmer said. "Some very formal, in terms of internships; some very informal, just meeting some people, working the tryout and meeting Otis Smith, a former NBA general manager and now the head coach of the Drive.
“So we thought as long as it didn't impact our students using our facilities, being connected with a pro franchise which is connected to the NBA was a great opportunity for Calvin.”
Calvin is a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association school, and two of the members of the SSJ Group, the Drive’s ownership team, are former MIAA athletes from Trine University.
At Trine, team president Steve Jbara played baseball and Wes Weir played basketball.
There will not be a connection with Calvin’s basketball program, however, as NCAA rules prohibit any relationship with professional and amateur athletes.