In the history of basketball, neighborhoods have always played each other. Different teams in one city have played one another. Those aren’t original ideas, says Mac Williams, Goodman League webmaster. But playing different leagues from different cities? That’s a relatively new idea. And it’s one that the Goodman League is taking full advantage of.
“Summer leagues, with some pros and non-pros mixed together and going out and playing each other in other states, I think we pioneered that,” says Williams. “The whole, ‘You come over here and play,’ I think that’s something that hasn’t taken place.
“Every summer, it’s always been you play in your own city with your own group of people and you play each other whereas now we’re taking it to a national level where we’re trying to take on all comers and play everybody.”
The famous D.C. summer league played against L.A.’s Drew League and Baltimore’s Melo League in August, and will play against the Indy Pro-Am at the Indianapolis Convention Center on Sept. 24. The league also has tentative plans in place to play EBC at Rucker Park on Sept. 30 and is working out the details to play an Atlanta team featuring Josh Smith in October.
As of now, the game in Indianapolis includes Kevin Durant, John Wall, Jeff Green and DeMarcus Cousins for the Goodman League and Lance Stephenson, Eric Gordon, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Danny Granger for Indy. Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls is hopeful that Michael Beasley will also be able to suit up.
Rawls can’t pinpoint a specific reason as to why summer leagues haven’t gone across the country and played each other before, but it’s easy to point to the lockout as a main reason why they are now. With no NBA in sight, there are more opportunities for games like these.
“I’ve been trying to play these other top-tier summer leagues for years,” says Rawls. “But for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. Luckily this year with the lockout things are working out. So now they’re knocking my door down to play the Goodman League. It’s good. We’ve been under the radar long enough. They now know about us worldwide.”
After the Goodman League beat the Drew League in “Capital Punishment,” other leagues began to take notice.
“When you do something as big as Capital Punishment was, you’re gonna get phone calls from other summer leagues who wanna play,” says Williams. “And that’s a good thing. It’s good for basketball, it’s good for the non-NBA players. It’s also good for the pros because it’s something to do during the lockout and they bring the level of competition up. And they also bring exposure to the individuals we don’t know about because we’re in our own part of the country.”
Williams admits he hadn’t heard of the Indy Pro-Am until the league contacted the Goodman League. And he says people probably didn’t even know about the Goodman League until Durant started playing there in high school.
They certainly do now though as games continue to occur even with summer ending. With the lockout, there are plenty of players not overseas. And they’re showing up to play in these mega games.
“I really hope that this will keep going as far as summer leagues playing other summer leagues, neighborhoods playing other neighborhoods, cities playing other cities,” says Williams. “And I hope that eventually as the lockout ends one day and the pros go back, that we can still keep doing these games.”
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