The Drew League enters a new era with familiar faces, live broadcasts and a new partnership with adidas

(Editor’s note: This article has been modified to reflect Caffeine’s current relationship with the Drew League.)

LOS ANGELES – After Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Looney scored 21 points in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, he was asked at the post-game press conference when he last scored 20 points in a game.

“Maybe it was college,” replied Lonnie with a wry smile. “Drew League! Count it! “

Lonely’s shout out at the Drew League came two weeks before the opening weekend of the NBA’s 49th in South Central Los Angeles. Looney dominated the league last summer, culminating with his I-Can All-Stars team, winning their first game of overtime in the league’s 48-year history.

“I remember when Baron Davis struggled outside of UCLA, played in the draw, came back and killed in the league. The Drew League does things for people,” said Rockshed Johnson, coach of the I-Can All-Stars team. “After Loon played with me — and he was really good — But was he having fun? You understand what I’m saying? He has fun! Returning to the Warriors team, “I won a championship in the Drew League with Rocc Johnson, I-Can All-Stars!” Now, look at his year. His year is ridiculous. it’s great. Now you have a chance to win two shots in the same year. It makes me really good when he mentions my role as Drew.”

Defending the I-Can All-Stars title is one of the many items to watch as the Drew League season begins. Last year, the league played games at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California, and the Drew League returned to King Drew High School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, where games were held for eight terms before the coronavirus pandemic. outbreak. The return of the main gaming site has revitalized the league led by Commissioner Chaniel Smiley and her father, Dino Smiley, former CEO and Commissioner of the Drew League.

“This is a place that everyone loves to be in,” Chaniel Smiley says. They love to bring their families and children. It’s just the atmosphere, and the energy around King Drew, always great.”

“Everyone says the same thing: We’re home,” Dino Smiley added. “I feel comfortable. We have lost everything here.”

The court in the Drew League features a Watts skyline, with Smiley’s family names on the floor. The updated Drew League logo features the “South Central” location for the first time in several years.

“That’s where we come from, and we’re very proud of where we come from, and it’s so important that we’re like that,” Chanel Smiley said. “Reclaiming South-Central LA in our logo just means, in terms of ownership, being able to show love to our community and not be ashamed of South Central. We are proud of where we come from.”

The theme of the home was further emphasized by the Smiley family when discussing the transition in primary care from Nike to Adidas. In addition to the summer Drew League, adidas sponsors the Women’s Drew League as well as the high school basketball show presented by the Drew League and Jr. Drew League in the spring.

The change from Nike to Adidas revitalized two NBA players, most notably Philadelphia 76ers goalkeeper James Harden, who competed in the Drew League against Kobe Bryant during the 2011 summer shutdown and won a championship at Drew in 2015 in a game against DeMar DeRozan. Harden has been tearing the Nike logo or covering up his shirt for years due to his stature as an adidas athlete. Now, it looks like Harden is ready to return to Drew as the face of the league’s new era.

Another development for the Drew League this summer is the ability to stream games live for the first time. The removal of NCAA restrictions that prevented athletes from being compensated removed one hurdle to broadcasting professional games. The Drew League has also developed a partnership with the National Basketball Players Association over the past few years, removing another barrier to broadcasting games. The Drew League has partnered with Caffeine, a social broadcasting platform, to broadcast two games over the weekend in June. Caffeine will also present the Drew League in pre-match and post-match demo on Sunday, as well as a weekly recap every Tuesday.

“Starting in July, Caffeine will be going into the pre- and post-show action to sort of talk about expectations, talk to the audience and kind of break up the game,” said Amanda Lack, Caffeine and Marketing Coordinator.

One of the games that Caffeine broadcast live to kick off the Drew League season featured Public Enemy. Charlotte Hornets center Montreal Harrell warmed up for Public Enemy Sunday along with a three-time Franklin Drew League MVP session.

“A lot of people don’t like change, but I look at it as growth. Because growth, at the end of the day, we’ve never been able to stream games. We can stream games now. Unlimited product for everyone,” said Session, who won the Drew League Championship in 2017. “That’s how it feels to me. It’s a great environment again. We’re back in King Drew. I feel like that’s how it should be.”

Caffeine will also broadcast the Pro-Am Basketball Challenge (PABC) June 24-26 that will bring six professional leagues from across the country together in Los Angeles. The league will host Drew, and the leagues will descend from New York (Dickman), Baltimore (Bronson League), Atlanta (Atlanta Recreational Basketball League), Miami (Miami NBA) and Philadelphia (Rumph Classic) south-central Los Angeles, with each team playing at least two games. The two teams with the best records and points difference will face off on the final day of the event.

“If we’re short, we have the whole city to grab some guys,” Dino Smiley quipped about the Drew League’s hosting of the PABC tournament this month. “The other summer pro leagues, they wanted the Drew League atmosphere to be…just pack it in, whoever can get in can get in, and let’s just fight.”

Overall, this will be one of Drew’s most competitive summers, in large part because this is the smallest roster of teams in at least a decade. Only 20 teams have been invited to compete this season, including new teams led by former Warriors champion Jordan Peele (CHPT562) and former announcer Clipper and current announcer Cory Magett (ghost). There are 10 teams in two divisions, named after the recently deceased Los Angeles referee Booker Turner and former Clipper Freeman Williams. Sixteen teams will go through the playoffs with the championship to be decided on August 21 at Los Angeles College Southwest. As usual, the motto remains the same: “No excuses, just produce.”

“We’re excited to be back, and we’re kind of out of the pandemic, so just glad everyone is feeling good too,” Chanel Smiley said during the first weekend of games. “We’re going to keep swinging this thing. Year 49. I feel like it’s going to be one of our best. I say that almost every year. But I have really positive vibes about it.”

(Photo: Lou Murray)


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