The A’s marked the winding-down of spring training with a fun team-building exercise Saturday morning: A three-point and free-throw shooting contest inside Oracle Arena, home of the Golden State Warriors.
Before playing their preseason finale against the Giants at the Coliseum, the A’s made the short walk over to the adjacent arena and spent some time shooting around on an NBA court.
“We try to do something every spring to mix it up a little bit,” said manager Bob Melvin, who added the idea came from visiting clubhouse manager Mike Thalblum. “It was an easy one, especially with what goes on in that building now.”
Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt won the three-point contest, while minor-league reliever Ryan Brasier, a non-roster invitee in the A’s camp, was the free-throw shooting champion.
“Bassitt is a basketball player for sure,” Melvin said. “He dunks pretty easy and moves around pretty well.”
Bassitt, who is listed at 6-foot-5, said he played point guard at his high school in Clay, Ohio, and that “We were really good.” He rarely plays anymore, though, because of the possibility of a freak injury.
“It’s definitely my love,” Bassitt said. “I love basketball. But I’ve been holding myself away from it.”
Bassitt said he made 7-of-9 three-point shots over three rounds and bested infielder Chris Coghlan in the finals. His prize was an autographed Klay Thompson jersey – a nice touch for Bassitt, who played with the Golden State guard’s younger brother, Trayce Thompson, in the White Sox minor-league system.
“I’m a Thompson family guy,” Bassitt said. “I love the Thompson family.”
Brasier does not share Bassitt’s basketball background: Brasier said he didn’t play in high school and before Saturday hadn’t shot a basketball since having Tommy John surgery in 2014. But he made four straight free throws in the final round and claimed a jersey signed by MVP Stephen Curry.
“Getting Steph is pretty cool,” Brasier said. “Me and my buddies, we’re Mavericks fans. But it’s fun to watch what Steph can do.”
Shooting wasn’t limited to the contests. Reliever John Axford was filmed making an underhand shot from several rows deep in the stands. And several people said outfielder Josh Reddick channeled a Curry pre-game routine by making a shot from inside the tunnel leading to the Warriors locker room.
“First shot,” Bassitt said. “Of course, Reddick made it, so we’ll never hear the end of it.”
Melvin, who has previously talked about his admiration for the defending NBA champion Warriors, said he didn’t get on the court himself. But he said the morning was a good team-bonding experience.
“You find out who the athletes are,” Melvin said, “and who the athletes aren’t.”