Imagine for a moment that you’re Andre Drummond. You’re having a pretty good summer. Yes, your Detroit Pistons got swept by the eventual NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, but it’s not a stretch to say your squad gave them the toughest test of the 2016 Eastern Conference Playoffs. Then, the Pistons rewarded you with a five-year, $125-million contract extension, making you the richest player in Pistons history. NBA commissioner Adam Silver even enacted a new rule giving teams less incentive to intentionally foul you and force you to shoot free throws, which you are terrible at—which could keep you on the court in the fourth quarter when the team needs you most.
Everything is going great, until you decide to head to The Drew League. At that moment, you realize nothing that has happened this summer matters. You are enveloped in darkness, forever.
The Drew League, according to its website, is a summer basketball league that was founded in 1973 by a man named Alvin Willis. It was made up of six teams, and the games were played at Charles Drew Junior High School in South Central Los Angeles. The league has morphed into something much different from its initial purpose, which was simply for neighborhood kids to bond over basketball and occupy their time over the summer. The 2016 version of the Drew League features 28 teams, all hand selected, made up of rappers, NBA players, former college athletes and regular dudes who just love to hoop. Celebrities sit courtside and an emcee on a microphone narrates the ebbs and flows of the games to the crowd.
The Drew League is no longer just another summer league. It’s an experience.
Part of The Drew’s allure is its ability to attract big names. It’s a place where former NBA greats like Baron Davis and Cuttino Mobley can show up and get buckets. Kevin Durant might pop in and drop 35 points. Kobe Bryant and James Harden might suit up, guard each other, and drop a combined 89 points with the crowd hanging on their every move. There’s something novel about watching NBA guys ball in a high school gym, and it only adds to the aura of what the Drew League has become.
But as the Drew League has grown, so has the caliber of non-NBA players who make up each team’s roster. On paper, a guy listed as a “former software engineer” doesn’t come off as much of a threat until he’s dunking on your head. That’s where Drummond learned firsthand that no matter what level of basketball you’re currently participating in, you’d better come correct.
Drummond was posterized twice over the weekend, first by former University of Nebraska standout Sek Henry, then by Darnell Shumpert, the aforementioned software engineer. Drummond knew the footage would go viral, so he fired off a tweet to get ahead of the story. But Drummond’s words couldn’t soften the blow of being dunked on by non-NBAers, and it’s safe to say the Pistons big man won’t be returning to the Drew any time soon.
Drummond isn’t the only pro baller to face embarrassment courtesy of the L.A. summer league. Jordan Clarkson, who just received a shiny new, four-year, $50-million deal from the Los Angeles Lakers, shot 1 for 12 in the first half of his Drew League game last Sunday, ending up with a miserable 6 points in a loss. His rumored girlfriend Kendall Jenner was in attendance, and Clarkson’s disappearing act in front of his lady earned him plenty of ridicule on Twitter.
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Even Houston Rockets star James Harden wasn’t immune, although he got his dose from a fellow NBAer. Still, when Nick Young takes you to the hoop with ease multiple times, you know that your much-maligned defense is really as bad as everyone says.
So if you’re in the NBA and feel yourself intrigued and enticed by the prestige of The Drew League, take a couple of minutes to think it through before you walk out your door with your gear in hand. Chances are, you’re going to end up on the Internet.