Lockout has players flocking to Drew, Goodman leagues

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is an institution, a part of the fabric of hoops in the city, and it usually has some name NBA players taking part — Baron Davis has run there seemingly forever. But this year it seemed more NBA guys came in (including Kevin Durant, who was putting on a show).

Same is true of the Goodman League in Washington D.C., which this year has seen Brandon Jennings, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and a host of other players.

Why the increase in guys getting some run in the summer leagues? The lockout, as David Aldridge explains at NBA.com.

The pro-am leagues have their own history, charm and character, from the fabled Rucker League in New York City to the late Long Beach Pro Summer League just outside of L.A. The Goodman League has been in business 28 years. But their status has gotten a bump this summer as the NBA lockout enters its third week, with no realistic end anywhere in sight. With the NBA’s summer leagues in Orlando and Vegas shuttered, and players unable to organize runs at NBA arenas, leagues like the Goodman are, for now, close to the only game in town — unless they go play in Europe or China.

“It’s the life for a while,” Jennings said afterward. “It’s cool, just to be here. I’ll be here and Baltimore for two months. So I’ll be playing basketball a lot here in D.C.”

Aldridge’s story is a great look at the Goodman League and the culture of it. I used to be a regular at the old Summer League in Long Beach because it was minutes from my place, but that was more official than the Drew League’s pro-am style. While Vegas and Orland are the official NBA summer leagues, the pro-ams are a culture of their own. They are more streetball, more entertainment than the Vegas league, which is about guys auditioning for jobs (somewhat in the NBA but also overseas, there are tons of European scouts on hand).

What really will be fun is a planned game this summer between veterans of LA’s Drew League and DC’s Goodman League.

…the Goodman League and its Los Angeles version, the Drew League, are finalizing plans for a streetball showdown on Aug. 20 in D.C. The game is tentatively set to be at Georgetown University’s McDonough Arena. The Drew has had the likes of Ron Artest, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Tyreke Evans and L.A. natives Nick Young and Jeremy Tyler come through this summer. Compton native and Cavs guard Baron Davis is handling logistics at his end; the D.C. squad will likely feature Durant, Michael Beasley, Cousins, Neal, Jennings and Shelby, maybe Ty Lawson and Nolan Smith, among others. The trash-talking has already begun.

Now that is going to be fun. And maybe the only fun NBA basketball we’ll see for a while.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.