Drew League Rumors
After checking off “improve NBA2K rating” and “signs a big a$$ NBA contract” off his bucket list, Hassan Whiteside can now check off “dominate at the Drew League.” This past weekend, the Heat center made his Drew League debut for Team Scrapes and Gravel and put up 30 points (13-20 fg), 9 boards, 6 blocks and 3 steals – good enough to win him Week 8 Player of the Week.
Could Smiley, the longtime proprietor of a fledgling pro-am in Watts, California, really turn down an icon like Bryant, a five-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers? Either way, Dino did. So when Porzingis’ people posed the same scenario to Smiley, he knew how to respond. “I don’t mean to laugh,” Smiley replied, “but Kobe Bryant asked us that in 2011, and if I told him no, you know I’m going to tell Kris Porzingis no.” “You can’t tilt the championship game,” Smiley told Bleacher Report. “These guys have worked hard for this.”
In the ‘80s, Byron Scott, Big John Williams and Lester Conner frequented the Drew. In the ‘90s, Paul Pierce and Baron Davis were among those who took up the mantle. In the 2000s, Davis started bringing his buddies, though at that time, Tyronn Lue and Earl Watson were hardly household names. “We were like, ‘That’s it,’” Smiley recalled. “It sustained us and, tie a ribbon on it and let it go.” Then, the 2011 lockout hit. Pros were left searching for competitive runs with NBA rules. Davis directed them to the Drew. The stars followed.
But with so many of the best players—including Drew Leaguers like Harden and Andre Drummond—turning down Olympic invitations from USA Basketball and other NBA representatives (i.e. Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Metta World Peace, Solomon Hill, Derrick Williams) expected to participate, the Drew might not miss a beat. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Hell, all the guys are leaving the Olympics because they don’t want to miss the Drew League,’” Smiley said. “We looked up and we said, ‘Yeah, it looks kind of funny.’ And then they all start going, ‘When is the league? When can we play?’ We know we’re going to continue to do this.”
Just in general, what did you hope to accomplish with this movie? It’s about the Drew League of course, but it is about more than that. Baron Davis: For me, I wanted to tell something positive that, No. 1, was going on in my community. And, two, I wanted to show people what L.A. basketball is all about. I knew there were a lot of misconceptions on both things. There’s always this idea that, hey, we’ve got the good weather, the beaches, we just get off work and fool around, L.A. players are soft. But I wanted to introduce the Drew because I felt that it was big for the community and meant a lot for the community that a lot of our NBA stars were coming back and playing in this league.
Throughout the movie, it seems that Dino Smiley, as he is running the league, nothing fazes him. But then one Saturday, LeBron shows up. I think that is the only time Dino gets really excited, and it’s a great moment in the movie. Baron Davis: It was a surprise for him. I think that is what really got him excited. Usually Dino is a guy who does not show a lot of emotion. But having the best player in the world come to the gym, I think that really got his juices going. To have someone like LeBron, the best player in the world at the peak of his career coming off a championship — it’s like the story of Dr. J going to play in the Rucker. That story will always be told and will forever be remembered.
For people who watch this movie, what do you hope they draw out of it? BD: There’s always a perception of the hood, and the hood being a negative thing. All the stories that usually come out are negative stories. For one, I just want people to connect to the positivity of what sport and what basketball can do in a neighborhood and a community that doesn’t have many things. And I would love for people to connect with the film and the vision. Hopefully it is good enough to do another one.