Drew League Rumors
It was a recent afternoon at the Drew League in South Central Los Angeles, where Davis has spent hundreds of summer days just like this one. On this day he coached his team, BB4L, to a lopsided win. He then relaxed under a beating sun and an older man asked whether Davis is gunning for one more season in the NBA Developmental League. “Nah, I’m trying to get back to the NBA,” Davis, 37, said. “The real thing.” “You’re an inspiration, Baron,” the man answered. “If you can do it, I’m starting to think I can do whatever.”
This summer Davis has been a player-coach, and when he gets into a game he takes some possessions off and goes full tilt to the rim on others. He laughed and said his knees aren’t an issue — “If they give then I guess my career’s over, right?” “I’ve told him you may have one bullet left, one bullet left in that chamber,” said Dino Smiley, the Drew League’s commissioner who has known Davis since he was a child. “And I think you’d be silly not to try to use it.”
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.