Kevin Durant is taking his talents outside of the NBA. After Deron Williams made his announcement that he will be traveling overseas if the lockout continues, players have expressed their desire to do the same.
Kevin Durant, however, won’t be traveling overseas to occupy his time while the lockout continues. He’ll be traveling to the west coast to play in South Central, L.A.’s famous Drew League.
Drew League is a pro-am circuit that was started in 1973 by Alvin Willis as a place where local kids could come and learn “life lessons” as well as play basketball. Since 1985, the current league director Dino Smiley has continued the tradition that was started by Willis. Professional athletes and entertainers have come to play on teams since it’s inception and the latest recruiter to bring NBA talent to the league is none other than 31-year-old Jayceon Taylor, who you may know as rapper Game.
In recent weeks, Game has participated as a player-coach-GM for team Go Ham. Game has impressed with his GM skills, recruiting players like Ron Artest, Kevin Durant and recent No. 2 pick in the NBA draft Derrick Williams. Game is now in negotiations with Derrick Rose to get him to join his team.
“I would consider playing because I like his music,” Rose said. “He’s a cool guy, a real guy, and he can play a little bit.”
“In the beginning I had to sell something like, ‘If you play on the team, I’ll go wherever you’re from and we can do a show or something,’ as a favor to him,” Game recently told Yahoo! Sports. “But now the word on the Drew League is everywhere, and guys are hitting me up to play.
“Durant hit me on Twitter saying, ‘I want to play in the Drew League,’” Game said. “I never met him until he came down, and now we’re cool.”
Drew League games are played in a small gym in Leon H. Washington Park, just north of Watts in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Kids from the neighborhood look at the gym as a safe haven from the neighborhood’s violence despite rival gangs arriving to the same gangs.
“Even though it’s in this neighborhood, it’s good, it’s safe,” Game said. “There are never no problems here. It’s always a family environment. It’s cool.”
Game claims he was quite the trouble-maker in his younger years before he matured.
“A lot of these courts I was banned from,” Game said. “But once I got a little older and settled into my family life, my kids, I had to come here and holler at Dino Smiley. He said, ‘Yo Game, you’re a menace.’ I was like, ‘Man, I’m 30 now. Chill.’ He said, ‘We are going to let you put a team in, but we don’t want no bull, no nothing.’ ”
Smiley now respects Game for the transformation he’s made and the contributions he’s give the Drew League.
“He’s a fun guy and he really loves the league,” Smiley said. “He tells me that on Friday nights he can’t sleep and he gets excited to play.”
In Go Ham’s most recent game, they played with Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Williams, Raptors guard Ed Davis, Houston Rockets guard Terrence Williams and former D-League player Mike Efevberha. Other NBA players who have played on team Go Ham were J.R. Smith, Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Shannon Brown, Austin Daye, Joe Smith, Steve Blake and Joey Dorsey.
Durant played in two games with team Go Ham so far, awing the crowd with an off the backboard dunk in one game, which qualifies him for the playoffs.
Unlike the NFL, the NBA players have options. The owners need to get it together before they lose out on even more money. A look at some of the clips from Drew League games below.