NBA superstars’ LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Washington, D.C.’s Kevin Durant and many more high profiled basketball players took over Morgan State University’s Hill Field House basketball arena on August 30, performing in a celebrity basketball game that attracted thousands to the campus.
The game was put together within only the last few days, but word still spread around fast enough for basketball fans of all ages to swarm MSU’s campus as if it were the university’s annual Homecoming celebration.
Everybody wanted to get a close-up view of King James, who was invited to hoop with the Melo Summer Basketball League’s all-star team as it took on some of the fan favorites that have appeared in the Goodman League throughout this summer.
James matched up against Kevin Durant for most of the game, as both players exchanged buckets against each other in front of an arena crowd packed out far beyond its 4,500-person capacity limit.
Durant proved why he was named the NBA’s two-time scoring champion the last two seasons as he dropped a game-high 59 points, nailing shot after shot despite a hand being in his face. But Durant just didn’t have enough help on his team to outmatch the Melo League’s all-star roster, who held off its opponents for a 149-141 win.
LeBron scored 32 points, while Carmelo Anthony added 27 points. Melo had also invited all-star guard Chris Paul, who had scored 16 points for the Melo League. Other NBA talent, including Josh Selby (16 points) and Baltimore native Gary Neal (17 points), also teamed up with the Melo League, overwhelming the shorthanded Goodman League team.
Durant was teamed up with a few notable names, too, including Denver Nuggets’ Ty Lawson, and Washington Wizards’ Trevor Booker. Durant’s team sported jersey from the Goodman League, though Goodman League media director Mac Williams told the AFRO before the game that this wasn’t a Goodman League vs. Melo League game. He explained that Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls, also famous for his humorous game announcing, was invited to call the game, so he brought some of his Goodman players to join in on the fun.
“He’s taking some of the boys out there with him, but this is not an official Melo League vs. Goodman League game,” Williams said. “They’re just going to Baltimore to have fun.”
“I had a blast,” Durant told reporters after the game prior to rushing to the locker room before a mob of excited fans could trap him on the court.
“To have that type of opportunity to play against [LeBron], and just work on what I’ve been working on all summer, it was fun,” Durant told a Washington Post reporter.
“[LeBron’s a great defender, great scorer. I played my hardest on the defensive end against him. I tried to play as best as I can on the offensive end.”
While Durant was able to escape the crowd, Carmelo didn’t have the same success. He got stuck in the middle of the basketball court, surrounded by thousands of fans, all looking to get a picture with their phone cameras.
“There’s nothing like it,” Anthony told the Post. “This summer, summer basketball is back. L.A., Chicago, New York, D.C., Baltimore. It’s back and I think we did a great job of competing for the fans.”
Melo said after the game that he’s impressed by Durant’s play this summer, noting that Durant has played all over the country the past few months, including an appearance at Ruckers in New York where he scored 66 points. But Durant told the Post that this summer has been no different than any summer since he’s been in the league.
“People have blown it out of proportion,” Durant said, “but guys always been playing summer leagues, been playing pickup games every summer. I’ve been doing this ever since I’ve been in the league. “Whenever there’s a big game, I’m ready to play.”