The NBA is widely regarded as the premier basketball league in the world, attracting players from all over the world. The Drew League, on the other hand, is a pro-am league in California where NBA stars come to play every summer.
Since the merger of the ABA and the NBA in the 1970s, there has been no debate about which is the best basketball league. Not only in the United States, but worldwide. Playing in the same league as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or more recently, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, was an incredible draw for players. But what if there was another method to compete against the world’s finest basketball players?
The origins of the Drew League
The Drew League is a pro-am basketball league that has been held since 1973. The league initially started with only six teams, but today there are already 24 registered teams. In the 1980s, the league began to attract the attention of professional and college players: NBA champions like Michael Cooper (Lakers) started showcasing their skills on the original court of the Drew League, at Charles R. Drew Middle School.
However, as a result of the 2011 lockout, the influx of NBA superstars grew exponentially. The NBA Players Association and league teams were unable to reach an understanding to renew the collective bargaining agreement, leading to a strike that lasted until December of that year.
These circumstances led players to seek a place to stay in shape and continue playing basketball. And the Drew League became a perfect refuge for many, but surprisingly, also for the biggest stars: in that season, players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant stepped on the courts, putting on incredible performances at the Col. Leon H. Washington Park, as if it were the Staples Center.
Once again, the Drew League benefited the most from these conditions, since it raised public interest in the championship. As a result, it relocated in 2012 to the King/Drew Magnet High School arena and struck a sponsorship agreement with Nike in 2013.
The greatest displays of NBA players in the Drew League
LeBron James (2022)
LeBron returned to the Drew League for the first time since the 2011 lockout, and he did not disappoint. At 37 years old, he took the game as seriously as an NBA game, as seen by his numbers at the end. 42 points, 16 rebounds, and four steals, all while playing alongside Drew League teammate and NBA opponent Demar DeRozan.
Demar DeRozan (2015)
The Los Angeles native is a regular at the Drew League, unlike LeBron James, so there are more games to choose from. Specifically, his game against Hank’s New Image in 2015, where he scored 39 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 10 assists.
Kobe Bryant (2011)
The Los Angeles Lakers star made his debut directly in a Drew League All-Star Game, in what was a sensational match. Bryant unleashed the ‘Mamba Mentality’ to the fullest, scoring 45 points, including the game-winning shot against a very young James Harden, who was on the opposing team.
Brandon Jennings (2014)
Jennings, in his seventh game in the NBA, scored 55 points. He promised a spectacular career, but he never reached that level within the best league in the world. Nonetheless, it was enough for him to visit the Drew League and provide two consecutive outstanding performances: 57 points, six rebounds, and five assists the first week, then 56 points, four rebounds, and two assists the following week.