The line ran nearly a hundred deep outside the doors of the DeMatha Catholic High School gymnasium as security prepared to let them in. All ages, races and makes of people made up the line that was finally ready to come in and see the best that the District of Columbia had to offer. As the doors opened, the blasts of go-go music, the sounds of basketballs bouncing on the court and sneakers gripping the hardwood floor were already underway.
It was finally time for the Goodman League Roundball Classic.
The night started off with The Goodman League taking on The Watts League before “The Big Show” which featured some of the bigger names in the pros. My night, however, began in the locker room as Webmaster and Media Relations Manager Mac Williams led me to meet the Goodman League players. Williams has spent an immense amount of time with the players and has even coached some of the Goodman League teams. While my research and previous knowledge of the league and its players made me comfortable in speaking with the recognizable faces, Mac’s insight and connection with them on a personal level is what made this a special day.
I spoke with nearly everyone that played for the Goodman League team that day (see the video above for some of the best highlights). I talked to them about what the league has done not only for the development of their game, but for their personal growth, as well. All the players agreed that the league has made them more confident in their game, though some would not admit that they became nervous the first time they saw a big-name pro come play with or against them.
Perhaps one of the most interesting moments of the day for me is when Bobby Mays, from, brought up the elephant in the room: these guys don’t get paid anything. Like many people know, you’ve got to spend money to make money. These guys realize that it’s not about money or fame right now, but rather about being a part of one of the most notable basketball leagues in the world, a league that has spawned numerous all-stars. This is their opportunity to make a name for themselves so that they can achieve the same success that some of their peers have already accomplished.
Two great examples of this caliber of player got locked into a battle that no one saw coming. First was DeMatha High School alumnus Kevin Durant, who made an early entrance in the Goodman versus Watts matchup after halftime in a Watts jersey (much to the dismay of Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls) to lead them to a comeback victory. Second was 2013 second-overall draft pick Victor Oladipo, also a DeMatha alumnus.
“The Big Show”, which also showcased players such as Mike Beasley, Josh Selby, Greg Monroe and Thomas Robinson, started off with a bang as Kevin Durant and Mike Beasley found themselves in an all-too-familiar back-and-forth (which Durant mostly dominated). But then, things got interesting as Oladipo began to size Durant up on the floor and managed to cross him up and get to the hoop a few times. The crowd could not get enough as the two went back-and-forth on nearly seven straight possessions at one time.
When asked after the game about whom he was most impressed with, commissioner Miles Rawls mentioned Thomas Robinson and his hustle and power, but seemed to be more impressed with the way Oladipo played.
“I didn’t know ‘Dipo could shoot the ball that good.”
Miles went on to describe how happy he is with what the league has become and the future it has, saying that “it can’t go nowhere but up.” As the popularity in the league continues to rise, the construction of an indoor stadium has been planned for 2014 in Barry Farms so that the teams can still play during inclement weather.
The league should also look to spawn some more all-stars as the crop of talent in both games showcased that the DMV truly is the hotbed for young basketball players. From Austin Freeman and Corey Allmond all the way to Goodman League vet Baby Shaq, these guys are the best of the best that this country has to offer.
The best part is, due to the Goodman League, this realization is finally reaching the general population.
Former Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas did not attend or play in the game as expected and no one knew why he was not there. My guess: testing out more red-light cameras or getting wrapped up in level 63 on Candy Crush.
John Wall was in attendance, but was announced as not playing due to an illness. However, Hoop District caught him beforehand and he seemed to insinuate it was so as to not take any risks for the upcoming Wizards season.
Related: Commissioner Miles Rawls sees the Wizards as a seven-seed in the Eastern Conference this season. Do you agree?
Complete 2013 Goodman League Roundball Classic photo set by Pablo Gamez here.