From the Entertainer’s Basketball Classic at Rucker Park to Watson, West 4th, Goodman League, LES Express, and Chi League I take great pleasure in creating my shots from the sidelines of summertime hoops. The Drew League has a reputation for drawing the NBA’s elite and for many of them, including the likes of MVP James Harden, Ben Simmons, and DeMar DeRozan, it’s not merely about playing or putting on a show, but winning. The fact that the league brings out that competitive drive in the best of the best is a testament to its greatness.
Shaunie O’Neal, 9th Wonder, Rapsody, Scottie Pippen, and the Black Mamba himself, Kobe Bryant, sat courtside for the culminating game of arguably the greatest summer league in the world. Just a couple months away from his 43rd birthday Cuttino “Cat” Mobley was the leader and focal point of his team’s offense and he looked like he hadn’t skipped a beat from his playing days with the LA Clippers. The game was exciting throughout as Redemption made a late run to snatch the 2018 trophy and bragging rights for the year.
With some time on my hands before my flight home, I was honored to connect with Drew League’s commissioner Dino Smiley. Mr. Smiley was kind enough to take me to two of the previous venues for the Drew League before it outgrew each of those facilities. He shared legendary stories and graciously allowed me to take a portrait of him in a closet from which he used to sell snacks in the infancy of the league decades ago.
I hope I get to spend more time at the Drew League next summer. Seeing all the highlights on Instagram and YouTube had me amped to roam the sidelines.