When the George C. Goodman Summer Basketball League of Southeast, D.C. and Drew League of Los Angeles first officially agreed to play against each other in the District, both league commissioners guaranteed it would be the most exciting sports event of the summer. Well, it’s safe to say they didn’t disappoint as 1,500 fans crammed into Trinity University’s small basketball gym on Aug. 20 to watch the Goodman League barely edge the Drew League, 135-134, in a contest that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
Many of the players featured in the game had just participated in the National Basketball Association playoffs just a couple of months ago. Fans may not see them in NBA uniforms for a while as the lockout between owners and players continues.
But for a few hours fans were able to witness some of the best basketball players on the planet play a highly competitive game. None of the players that participated made any money off the event; they just wanted to be a part of perhaps the biggest community league basketball game ever.
“Everybody thinks it’s all about the money. It’s not about the money,” said Washington Wizards guard John Wall, talking to a Washington Post reporter as hundreds of fans, cameras and media members crowded around the player after the game. “I just want to play basketball. I love to play basketball. It’s a lot of people that don’t get a chance to play NBA games, so why not give them a chance to come watch me play? It’s not about being scared or anything. It’s about showing love in the ’hood.”
Wall represented the Goodman League proud with 28 points in the win; he had a slow first half, but promised Goodman commissioner Miles Rawls that he would “turn it up” in the second half to guarantee the win. Washington, D.C. native Kevin Durant also had a strong second half, and was named MVP after finishing with a game-high 44 points, including two points scored on game-deciding free-throws with less than 30 seconds in the game.
Durant told reporters that the game was a little more intense than he anticipated. The star forward jawed back and forth with his teammate from the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, guard James Harden, who is a proud L.A. native and member of the Drew League. The two players guarded each other most of the game, bumping and shoving each other at times, but kept it clean and friendly.
After the game, Harden tweeted that the Drew League was cheated, claiming the foul that sent Durant to the free-throw line in the final seconds should have been an offensive charge. Durant replied to him by tweeting, “NOOOO don’t be like that…we’re gonna come to LA and get no calls, so it don’t matter.”
Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley confirmed with the AFRO that there will be a part. II of the Goodman vs. Drew game, but this time it will be held in L.A., scheduled for Sept. 10.
“We’ll be ready for revenge in L.A.,” Smiley told the AFRO, “And if they beat us in our home, we’ll have no choice but to come back and play them outside .