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We are just a few weeks removed from the George Zimmerman trial in which the race divide widened with his “Not Guilty” verdict.
However, in the heart of Watts there is an oasis commissioned by Dino Smiley called “The Drew League.”
The Drew League is where a family of four from Orange County sits side-by-side with a family of four from Compton, slapping hands and cheering on Casper Ware Jr. as he scores 45 points in a nail-biter 1st round of the playoffs, defeating the number one seed led by two NBA All-Stars (James Harden and Meta World Peace).
Both families were spell bound by the game, and race was not even a consideration as they exchanged verbal swords and congratulations with each other.
To some, The Drew League is a place where anyone can watch some of the best basketball for free. However, to most, “The Drew,” as it is so lovingly called by its faithful followers, is a place where every summer we take part in what America should feel and look like.
With one glance around the gym you will see a melting pot of Americans of every race, religion, and social economic background converging together for one cohesive purpose. The only arguments you will hear are about who had the best play or best dunk. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that they will back next year.
This past weekend “The Drew” began its 40th season of playoffs. Every team was looking to knock off the current three-time champions “LAUNFD.” As expected the first round did not disappoint.
The 16th seed knocked off the number one seed, “Money Gang,” led by the rapper Game, 73-72 in an overtime instant classic. With all eyes on “LAUNFD,” which pulled off a win (81-78) over "Most Hated Players" with an all-star team including Westchester alumni Bobby Brown and Scott Cutley, and USC alumnus/Chicago Bulls player Taj Gibson despite newest Laker Nick Young aka ‘I Am Legend” and “Agent 0” Gilbert Arenas giving it their all.
Finally, Compton native and current Detroit Piston Brandon Jennings led “A1 All-Stars” to a convincing win over “New Image,” contributing 16 points to the 77-56 win.
Sunday Aug. 11 began the second round as expected, the spectator line was wrapped around the corner with anxious fans waiting for the doors to open. Stan Locell from Orange County said, “ I got here at 9a.m. because I did not want to miss when Kevin Durant played.”
With four games in the chamber the Announcer, George, bellowed out The Drew motto ‘No Excuse! Just Produce!” hyping the crowd up for another great round of playoff action.
Referee threw the ball up in the air to start game one. “Kings of LA,” led by Leuzinger High alumnus/ Philadelphia 76er Dorell Wright, Westchester High alumnus/Toronto Raptor Amir Johnson and former Clipper Mike Taylor had little trouble with “Hard Times,” defeating them by 15 points with final score 100-85.
In game two “Hanks Blazers” led by Chicago Bull Malcolm Thomas and Former Dorsey High All-City performer Kyle Gibson, easily beat “Problems” 82-74.
Gibson finished with 19 points on 7/13 shooting.
Game three was a highly anticipated point guard match-up between reigning MVP Casper Ware going heads-up against Detroit Piston Brandon Jennings.
Jennings took control of the game early with his court generalship and his wizardry passing, leaving on-looking fans gasping at his every motion. Feeling his season slip away, Ware came on late in the game, but playing four games in four nights took a visible toll on him and his teammates and they lost 92-85.
Jennings finished with 26 points with 8 dimes and Ware finished with 25 points and countless new fans due to the heart he showed during this playoff run.
The most anticipated game of the evening was of course the last game, with “LAUNFD” squaring off against “Top Prospects.” And it definitely lived up to its potential.
Former UCLA/Clipper-great Baron Davis was dishing out as much trash talking as assists early on in the game, taking his team to a 41-36 lead into halftime. However, led by Coach Wally Moore, “LAUNFD” walked down the Baron Davis led team into a corner and would not let them out.
Last year’s finals MVP Bobby Brown and Chicago Bull Taj Gibson paced “LAUNFD” with 19 points each. The final score was 86-78 in favor of "LAUNFD."
The final four is set! August 24th Kings of LA vs. A1 All-Stars and LAUNFD v. Hanks Blazers. Get there early! Guaranteed Sellout!
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