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A Night Inside the Gates

Barry Farms – Southeast, DC – Sunday night Asad, MrBJack and I had the chance to go Inside the Gates to witness our first ever Goodman Summer League game and by the time we left, not only were we new fans, but we all came away in awe of the amount talent that was on display.

Miles Rawls, the Commissioner of the league and probably the most entertaining announcer I’ve ever heard for a sporting event, hosts what they call Barn Burner Sundays at the Barry Farms Goodman League. These barn burners feature two “main attraction” match-ups of local DC legends mixed in with your occasional college, NBDL, pro-circuit, Euro and NBA players.

The first game featured Da Squad vs Hobo who were led by local legend – Gerald “P-Shitty” Brown, George Washington’s Rob Diggs, Paul VI (had to throw a bone to my high school) UMBC alum Darryl Proctor and Matthew Horne who played for Coastal Carolina.

For those not familiar with them:

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Unfortunately for Hobo, Da Squad would go on to upset them in an overtime game that featured dunks, alley oops, ridiculous athleticism and sick handles. I quickly learned from this game that names don’t get you anything at the Goodman league.

The players on both teams fought hard in the paint, took it to the glass on most possessions and threw themselves around the blacktop as if there was cushioning all around. You could tell that these guys were playing for pride but even more impressive was the teamwork they displayed. While the first game may not have had the “star power” of the second game, the guys who played in the early match up are not short on confidence or talent.

YouTube Preview ImageNow, there was definitely a buzz during the first game as everyone knew that Kevin Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer last year was going to be present, but the fans also got a little treat when Andray Blatche showed up to get some burn as well. The two NBA stars arrived within minutes of each other, Durant in his Mercedes Benz, Blatche in his Range Rover.

Once the first game ended, the two ballers from the “League” as Rawls refers to the NBA, emerged from their cars, grabbed their jerseys and made their way to the warm up line. After giving Blatche a friendly Wizards Extreme hello, Asad instructed Dray to put up 50 and steal the show.

YouTube Preview ImageBlatche would not put up 50 but he did have an impressive showing with 18 points, numerous rebounds, dunks and highlights, some of which are shown below.

YouTube Preview ImageDurant led all scorers with 35 points, showing his unlimited range, long reach and highlight reel dunks, much to the delight of the fans, or should I say, most of the fans. See, you would have thought the pros would be the crowd favorites, especially in an environment like this, but I quickly learned that is the furthest thing from the truth at Barry Farms.

YouTube Preview ImageWe were told by our gracious host Mac Williams that many high profile athletes have walked through The Gates only to get booed, yelled at, and embarrassed in what can be at times the hostile confines of Barry Farms. If you don’t perform, there is nowhere to hide and Rawls will be the first one to call you out.

With that said, Durant surely had his moments, but he was hardly the highlight of the evening. Coming in I was looking forward to watching Durant go crazy with some high flying dunks but by the time the games had finished the names on my mind were that of Saquan “Ghost” Davis, Lonnie “Prime Objective/L Train” Harrell and Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones.Davis, the pride of Suitland High, demonstrated lightning quick feet, fast hands and an arsenal of impressive passes that had the crowd hooting and hollering every time he touched the ball.

Lonnie Harrell chipped in 18 points with an array of jump shots from just about anywhere he wanted on the court mixed in with a good low post game. We were informed by the folks sitting court-side with us that anything inside the arc has Harrell banking it in off the backboard. Hell, he even shot his free throws off the back square.

What I really enjoyed about Harrell though was seeing how adored he was by the crowd. Don’t take it from me, take it from the guy below who was in Durant’s ear all night about how if he wanted respect he needed to guard Harrell.

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Durant also responded to this fan with the line, “I do this sh*t for a living” after one of his thunder dunks.

When it was all said and done, the man of the hour was Hugh Jones. Baby Shaq showed off great baseline moves, highlighted by his signature “One Time” move which drew ooh’s and ahh’s from the crowd each time he got his man. None of his 26 points was more important than his buzzer beating 3 pointer to win the game which got everyone off their feets and rushing the court. On the backs of Jones, Harrell and Davis, Team Cricket was able to beat NBA led 3rd Eye for a very impressive win.

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Overall, I have to rank this experience right up there with some of my favorite sporting events. When you combine the entertainment value with the fact that it’s free, I don’t see how you can compare too many things to it. If you haven’t been to the Goodman League before and you love basketball, do yourself a favor and make the trip.

You don’t need Durant, Arenas, Beasley or Blatche to be there either, as long as Ghost, Baby Shaq, L-Train, P-Shitty, or the countless other ballers are there you are guaranteed to get a good show. For that matter, as long as Miles Rawls is on the microphone, you can bet your ass your going to get top dollar entertainment.

Simply put, the Goodman League is basketball at its best.

As a side note, I want to give a lot of credit to guys like Blatche, Durant, Arenas, Beasley, Nate Robinson and the other NBA athletes who put themselves out at these events. Aside from the injury factor that is present anytime you play ball, they put their egos aside and give back to a community that adores them. For a couple of hours they become “human” and after the game on Sunday, to watch Durant, a bonafide NBA SuperStar walk around and take pictures and sign autographs for anybody who asked was just incredible.

It was further proof that I’ve been missing out on one of the best basketball experiences any fan could ask for.

You too can be a part of it, all you have to do is show up, Inside the Gates.
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We also got some video courtesy of our friends at CSN of Blatche and Durant after the game. That report comes from Brian Jackson of CSN’s Fast Break.

 

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