LOS ANGELES-A standing room only crowd. Long lines of people wrapped around the corner outside waiting to see if they would get a chance to come inside the building. NBA royalty mixing it up and doing their thing. The Drew League lived up to its storied hype on the last day of the 2017 regular season.
You would have to go down a long list of names of NBA players suiting up to get their feet wet in the pro-am summer basketball league that takes place annually in Watts. It’s been no different this summer. It’s just tradition that NBA players find their way down to the Drew League to get their summer basketball swerve on.
Sunday might have been a little different with former Los Angeles Clippers star now Houston Rockets floor general, Chris Paul, taking the floor for LAUNFD with the electric James Harden. Like he does in the NBA on a nightly basis, Harden put on his usual array of hoop scoops, tantalizing drives and drop-deep 3-pointers in scoring 27 points to lead LAUNFD to a 83-81 win against the Home Town Favorites.
After getting off to a slow start, Paul settled down to score 13 points and dish off 10 assists for LAUNFD. But it didn’t matter to the crowd if Paul scored 13 or dropped 30. The fact that he came down and added his name to the long-line of NBA players to grace the court of the Drew League, was good enough for them as they clutched to their cheers on just about every shot attempt the point guard extraordinaire put up.
Watching all of this play out from courtside was Chicago Bulls member and future Hall of Famer Dwayne Wade, who received an arousing ovation when he walked in the King Drew Magnet High School gymnasium. There was no shortage of the star power on this day. The Home Town Favorites were no slouches in the NBA alumni department with Tim Hardaway Jr., Delon Wright and Jordan Bell taking the court against Paul and Harden.
Closing out a seven-game schedule, the matchup between LAUNFD and Home Town Favorites, served up to be the main course in a steady diet of the NBA parade. There was Nick Young, DeMar DeRozan and the Lakers’ Julius Randle playing for the Most Hated Players. Young and DeRozan, the Tornto Raptors star who played locally at Compton High School, are regulars at the Drew League.
This is old hat for them. It wasn’t old hat for the fans coming to see the games played. Droves and droves of people, coming as early as 7 a.m. lined up to get treated to a buffet of high quality basketball for free. The Drew League found itself glittered with NBA stars taking the court.
None were bigger than Harden and Paul, who are now bound together as teammates with the Rockets. The straw that stirred the drink was Paul, who spent six seasons in Los Angeles as a member of the Clippers before being traded to Houston earlier this summer.
Paul had never played in the Drew League until Sunday afternoon where he got a chance to see what it actually might be like playing alongside Harden, the No. 2 guy in MVP voting this past NBA season. They looked pretty good as a pair in leading LAUNFD to its must-needed victory. Now it’s on to the playoffs for the NBA’s next great dynamic duo.