LOS ANGELES-There’s not too many places you can go to for free and catch some of the world’ greatest basketball players playing pick up games. The Drew League, based in the center of South Los Angeles, is one place where you can find that option.
There are a lot of people who can’t afford the high-scale ticket prices of an NBA game just to see the likes of a Kevin Durant, Metta World Peace, JaVale McGee, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Coming down to the Drew League is the next best thing for local basketball fans. The Drew League doesn’t charge admission prices during its regular season. Since the NBA lockout a couple of years ago, this community-oriented philosophy has worked out well for basketball fans and for those who run and operate the Drew League.
That’s because when the NBA lockout took place in 2011, NBA players came raining down to the Drew League to get some work in and to keep themselves fresh until the work stoppage ended. James, Durant, James Harden and former Compton High School standout DeMar DoRozan, among others, dropped in during the NBA’s lockout period to keep their wheels minted.
That has also proven to be a boon of success for the hottest summer basketball league in the country. Now over 1,000 fans pack the gymnasium of King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science at least a couple of hours early before these NBA stars walk into the building.
The buzz over the Drew League has extended beyond locality and has the hit national level with its number of NBA invitees and participants over the years. This year is no exception. In week 10, Harden (Houston Rockets), McGeee (Denver Nuggets), Dorell Wright (Portland Trailblazers) and Darren Collison (Los Angeles Clippers) gave fans a dose of NBA-style basketball.
Week 11 at the Drew League featured more of the same of high-end basketball. Except there was one exception: Mr. Oklahoma City Thunder himself. Durant was in the house. Rumors flew all over the place about which NBA players would show up in week 11. A lot of chatter swirled around New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul possibility showing up.
That didn’t happen. But the crowd got more than its share of NBA star-gazing. Durant, World Peace, Stephen Jackson, McGee, DeRozan and Shannon Brown got their game on. Former NBA player Baron Davis, who is filming a documentary on the history of the Drew League, got in on the action as well.
The NBA stars didn’t disappoint. In the biggest draw game of the day, Durant and the LA Unified squad found themselves on the short end of a 92-90 defeat to the The Game and the Money Gang team, which featured Brown, Jackson, DeRozan and World Peace.
The game itself was a doozy. Durant was clearly Alpha star on the day, producing the kind of monster game that has made him of the best players in the NBA.
Durant dazzled, dunked and shot his way to 35 points while pulling down 17 rebounds in the loss. Durant, who connected on just six of 17 three-point shots in the game, had a chance at a potential game-winning shot. Guarded intensely by the high-flying DeRozan, Durant let go of a high-arcing three-point shot that eventually bounded off the rim with 2.3 seconds left in the game as the crowd stood to its feet.
Durant brought the “wow” factor to the afternoon showcase game. But World Peace and DeRozan were just as effective for the Money Gang team. World Peace dropped in 29 points and grabbed 13 boards. DeRozan played like this was home turf, tallying 27 points, snatching 11 rebounds and executing a couple of spectacular block shots, including snuffing out an attempted dunk.
It was just another day at the Drew League.