If there was ever a night to be in the DMV, it was last Saturday, August 20. Some of the best basketball players in the country were gathered, not in a spacious and sparkling downtown arena, but an intimate college gym in Northeast DC. Kevin Durant donned brilliant Redskin-color shoes. Mayor Vincent Gray sat on the Goodman League bench. The familiar voice of Miles Rawls, in his Alldaz white tee, added his own unique commentary during game action. Go-go music played at halftime on the internet feed that was provided for those who couldn’t get into the overflowing arena. Everything about the event oozed DC flavor and in the end that flavor helped the Goodman League squeak by the more-heralded Drew League out of Los Angeles, 135-134.
This was the night DC basketball has been looking forward to for a while. A night where the hidden jewel of the DMV’s love for hoops was unveiled for the entire world. An amped crowd was treated to a hard-fought, passionate game from both sides. Hard fouls, actual good defense, and a fierce comeback by the Drew League in the 3rd quarter created a once-in-a-lifetime game for those that are usually unable to get to the Verizon Center.
The Goodman League has been around for a long time, but hasn’t gotten the respect that other leagues around the country have gotten. Even some basketball crazed residents of the District don’t know about the Goodman League, and if they did, they are wary of traveling to that heralded asphalt court. Miles Rawls, commissioner and ambassador of the league has long for his league to be the talk of the basketball world. The Goodman League had many good players come through it, such as Durant, along with Michael Beasley, and more recently John Wall, but it could never reach the elite status of Rucker Park or the Drew League. Gilbert Arenas brought some acclaim to the Barry Farm courts, when he played there to prove his surgically repaired knees were fine. But it took this weekend, with the hype of the contest dubbed “Capital Punishment,” for the Goodman League to start getting the love it deserves.
This is the type of event that could be a jewel in the crown for this city. To have that many athletes that would pay their own way to compete in this exhibition game, spoke to the prestige that the DC area has in the basketball world. The game started out as a high-flying affair, with an alley-hoop to JaVale McGee, then with Wall following with an alley to Durant. Goodman dominated play early on with physical play by DeMarcus Cousins, long-range shooting from Durant, who finished with a game-high 44, and various cold spells by the Drew League. Goodman was up 11 at the half, and the crowd was pumped by the quality of play from both sides.
It wasn’t all a piece of cake for the Goodman League. Numerous people were turned away from the door with legitimate tickets. Rawls has promised to reimburse all of those turned away. On the court, the Goodman League blew a 16-point lead in the 3rd quarter. Brandon Jennings, after he scored 2 of his 38 points C-walked on the court, as the West Coast team seemed to have all the momentum at that point. But Wall and Durant took over from there. Even Gary Neal, who seemed out-of-place with the structured game he learned from San Antonio, contributed down the stretch. Harden, Jennings, and DeMar DeRozan kept Drew in the game, but after two free-throws by Durant to make it 135-134, Jennings last-second pull up was short and Harden’s desperate attempt was blocked by Durant to seal the game.
After the game, the hard play on the court morphed into mutual respect by both teams. There is already talk of a rematch in LA in September, with Kobe Bryant being the missing piece to put Drew over the top; as long as the lockout continues. But at least for one night, DC proved it belonged at the top of the mountain when it comes to basketball. From us at the ManCave, who are born and raised in the DMV, we give a Coon Salute to the Goodman League. Way to represent for the ‘urrea’.