August 24, 2011
This previous Saturday, arguably the greatest street ball game ever occurred in Washington, D.C. As I discussed two weeks ago, the game between Washington, DC’s Goodman League and Los Angeles’s Drew League was going to be the final touch on Kevin Durant’s month long dominance of various pick games across the nation – and it did not disappoint.
To be honest, the event itself was not very well organized. The gates opened at 3:30, with an AAU game at 4:30 and the main event at 6:30. My crew decided to get there around 4:30, which we did, expecting somewhat of a line. But as we walked on to the Trinity College campus, we saw an estimated 1000 people waiting to get in. After two hours, we were finally able to get in, but others behind us weren’t as lucky. The line was still four football fields long when they decided to stop letting people in – even if they had tickets. Disorganization is probably an understatement.
For those who got in, even those sitting in the aisle of the bleachers (me), it was a thrill ride from the start. Fast paced dunks, alley-oops, deep threes, no defense – exactly what you’d expect. Check out some of the top play videos online, it’s worth a few minutes of your time. But they don’t depict the amazing essence the vent offered.
My top reasons why the Goodman vs. Drew game was better than an NBA game.
Durant vs. Harden
The biggest star and kingpin of the NBA players was undoubtedly Kevin Durant. The young forward had a breakout season last year, and was instrumental in setting up the East vs. West match up. Representing LA was Durant’s teammate and close friend, James Harden.
The majority of the game, Durant covered Harden and vice versa, as consistent high jinks ensued. Every time Durant ran up the court, Harden would jump directly on him so his face was an inch from Durant’s. KD’s response? To jokingly shove Harden 5 feet away. This didn’t happen just once – but nearly every single time KD ran up the floor. At one point, Durant drove to the basket, drawing a foul from Harden (yes, there were fouls). Harden countered by pegging a chess pass directly at Durant. All in good fun, all hilarious.
Lack of Defense, Traveling, Harder Fouls
The NBA of today is often criticized by dissenters because of the lack of defense allowed, traveling doesn’t get called as often, and the petty fouls called on players. I agree there’s an argument to be made that the league isn’t as tough as it used to be, but it’s not necessarily bad.
The extreme lack of defense, excluding the last minute of the game, made for constant highlights. The first quarter alone had at least three alley oops, including one on the first play of the game, deep threes, and quick drives to the basket. Players were simply aloud to do things they wouldn’t be in a normally officiated game.
In the first half, Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins was able to completely dominate Javalle “Pierre” McGee. Cousins, 6’10” and 250+ pounds, pushed the lanky, taller McGee around like a grown man would do an 8 year old. My favorite play of the game was when Boogie got the ball on the baseline, quickly spun on Pierre, took at least 5 steps and slammed down a thunderous one-hand dunk.
Boogie also had 7-8 fouls, but played until the end of the game. Can’t get away with all that in the NBA.
Part of the disorganization of the event was because the normal court the Goodman League plays on, “Inside the Gates,” was unable to handle the number of people who wanted to attend. The vibe gained from a street court would have been very cool, but I think this was just as good.
The game was played at Trinity College, a small DIII women’s only college in Northeast DC. Not the nicest part of the city, but certainly nicer than where the games usually occur, which was a plus. The gym the game was played in was smaller than my high school’s with 1400 students enrolled. It was a flashback for me – watching the varsity team from as little as a few feet away, except with world class athletes who can reach five feet above the rim.
Sure, it was crowded, but that’s a small price to pay for the show that was put on.