Jul 17 2015

How I Made My Drew League Debut

For the past two seasons, I’ve been covering the Drew League in Los Angeles. While the Summer of 2014 was more about my stories, this summer has been more about my behind-the-scenes coverage. Either way you look at it, I’ve been a keen observer of every game that has been played this season, while I was around 11 of 13 weeks in 2014. I’ve seen a lot go down.

Week 8 was already going to be crazy. Here was my preview for it:

It was the first weekend of Friday night games, the first weekend that NBA players were eligible to play, and because of the 4th of July, there were no games scheduled on Saturday. It was going to be dope.

Let’s fast forward to that Sunday. I was in one of my spots, the locker room corner, for the start of an 8-game schedule. The first game that day was Problems vs. Reapers. Despite Gerry Blakes going off for Problems, Reapers were making a real game of it. Both teams had come in on five-game losing streaks, and the 10 a.m. “Breakfast Club” games are supposed to have low expectations.

But this game was headed for overtime. By the end of regulation, the next two teams were circulating around the trainer’s area and getting ready for the next game. The Clozers, the youngest team in the Drew League featuring future Trojans Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu and high-flyer Jeff Remmington 1, had their full squad just about. They were ready to go.

Their opponent, Tradition, only had four players in uniform: Zeon Gray, Michael Ojo, Cody Riley, and Lorenzo Davis. Their head coach was on the phone trying to see where the rest of his guys were at. It wasn’t looking good.

Meanwhile, this Problems/Reapers game went into double overtime. The gym was already turnt. That’s what happens when one guy is going off for 30 but the other team just keeps rotating between players who can hit big shots. While all of this is going on, my man in security walks up to me and asks if I want to play. He always sees me shooting around before the day starts (I’m always ready to jump on a court knamean!), but he’s always pulling my leg.

But not this time. These dudes Tradition really needed players.

Hol’ up … again?? Tradition wasn’t a bad team. They were an average team. They came into this Week 8 game at 4-3, which was an accomplishment considering they went 1-1 with Seth Curry on their squad and had already shown up to one game and lost because they only had five players. Still, with playoffs around the corner, they were in a good spot. But they needed this game against The Clozers. And they had four players.

I wasn’t about to cover a forfeit. That would’ve been hella wack, and nobody had time for that nonsense. So I asked coach what was up. It wasn’t much of a convo, though. He had already given one of the Nike staff members, Marcos, a white jersey and shorts. He was going to start. I was going to be the only bench player.

Now, on one hand, I was excited. I play basketball every week and I played at Friends’ Central, so it’s not like I’d go out there and clown. For as much as I complain about weak hoops experiences, I was about to play at the Drew. That was dope. I handed off my laptop to Aaron and got ready to play.

On the other hand… this was not an ideal situation. Even if Tradition had their full squad, they would have been at a physical disadvantage against The Clozers. It wasn’t like I was going to show up with dudes I never hooped with and drop a dub. That’s not my game anyway. I’m a streaky shooter who constantly moves without the ball and looks for the big play as a passer. I also try and be disruptive as a long-armed and underweight defender. I’m a ballhawk, but I have always had a bad habit of deferring.

The game actually wasn’t too bad early. The Clozers came in with a 3-4 record, and as athletic as they were, they were an awful ballhandling team. Marcos hit his first shot of the game, a three, and it looked like this could be a game. I checked in towards the end of the first quarter and actually cut my way into a good look as Lorenzo Davis hit me on my dive to the basket. My baby hook didn’t hit the right part of the glass and bounced off. That would be my best chance to score.

In the second quarter, I got a pass from Zeon Gray and launched a three from the right wing. The decision to shoot was the right one and a good one. But I didn’t shoot that ball as much as I just threw something up towards the rim. I airmailed that three a good few inches west of the rim. No bueno. We were down at the half, but it wasn’t an insurmountable lead.

It got bad in the third though. Real bad. We didn’t get back on defense and we weren’t getting good look on offense anymore. We basically played four on five offensively. When I got back into the game in the third quarter, it was already a blowout. The Clozers were getting it going in transition. My final shot attempt of the game came off an offensive rebound, but I tried to draw a foul on 6’10” Jayce Johnson. No dice. Johnson rejected me at the apex of my attempt.

I didn’t play the last six minutes of the game. George, the voice of the Drew, was disgusted: “I don’t think Tradition will be back next year!” … “They had to get a Nike staff member! And a writer! Just to play today!” 2 Wally, the Clozers coach known for going off, had a ball: “It looks like y’all QUIT!!!”

The final score was Clozers 83, Tradition 58. Boatwright was player of the game, with 17 points. Here was my line:

Back in the locker room, the regular Tradition players were embarrassed. They were grateful that Marcos and I were available to play, but they were embarrassed for us too. They knew that they dropped a game that they could have used to solidify a playoff spot.

Obviously, I wanted to win and play well. Neither happened. I turned my jersey in, got dressed, I took my spot and went back to covering the rest of the day. It was a crazy, memorable weekend. But I felt good getting a run in! It’s just basketball, at the end of the day. Things were faster, but I felt fine out there. My airball was my worst moment, and I didn’t score, but felt like I competed. 3

When I get in another Drew League game, hopefully I’ll be better.

But in the meantime, there’s this:


Until next time!

Show 3 footnotes

  1. I did a story on Remmington last year
  2. And to think, I remember what it was like to be an athlete trying to write at Friends’ Central…
  3. I’ve never been more proud of grabbing six rebounds in a game before.

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