Goodman League Commissioner Miles Rawls said on Sunday he would make sure that fans who purchased legitimate tickets but were denied entrance to Saturday’s star-studded summer league clash featuring Kevin Durant and Wizards players John Wall and JaVale McGee, among others, will be reimbursed in full.
Rawls’s local Goodman League defeated the Los Angeles-based Drew League, 135-134, in an East-West showdown for pro-am supremacy, but the excitement inside was somewhat muted because hundreds of fans were sent away after the Trinity University gym reached full capacity (about 1,500).
Rawls explained that the major problem was the result of individuals producing and selling counterfeit tickets for the biggest summer league game the District has seen in years. After looking over the tickets collected from the game, Rawls realized that some of them had been duplicated. “I don’t want people thinking I oversold. That’s not what happened,” Rawls said on Sunday in a telephone interview. “I got a ticket with 085 on it. You know how many times I got that ticket? Twelve times.”
People who bought tickets at Downtown Locker Room will get a full refund if they paid with a credit card, and a store credit if they paid with cash, Rawls said. He had yet to figure out how to pay back fans who purchased tickets online, but said that anyone who bought tickets personally from Rawls will be able to get their money back during Goodman League games this week at Barry Farm. He said fans with legitimate tickets seeking a refund could also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. or call him at 240-381-9404.
“I’m here. I ain’t ducking ’em. They can get their money back from me and I’ll be glad to give them a refund,” Rawls said. “But if they have a duplicate ticket, they are not getting a refund. Go back up to Michigan Avenue, where you got it from and get it from that guy.”
Rawls thought that he would wake up on Sunday morning feeling thrilled about a competitive game in which Durant scored a game-high 44 points, including the decisive free throws with 21.5 seconds remaining, and secured the victory by blocking James Harden’s game-winning attempt at the buzzer. But instead of relishing pulling off a successful event in which 12 NBA players and several other pro-am stars participated, Rawls’s cell phones were bombarded by messages from upset people who were unable to get inside.
“I was so [upset]. I got a good reputation in this town. I ain’t ever robbed a soul,” said Rawls, who has run the Goodman League out of Barry Farm Recreational Center for the past 15 years. “I’m not going to let that salt what we did for the city.”
Rawls said that organizers sold 1,000 tickets at different locations, including Downtown Locker Room, and another 600 online. Those tickets had all been purchased by Friday evening. He also sold another 300 tickets on the day of the game at the box office. But he added that he didn’t account for the AAU teams that played earlier in the afternoon and stayed for the main event. He also claimed that some people managed to sneak through security to get inside.
“Some of that is my responsibility,” Rawls said. “That’s totally my fault. I’m so used to things running smoothly. All I can do is give them a refund and apologize to them.”
Proceeds from the game will go toward the various charities of the Goodman League and Drew League, and reimbursing the Drew League players for their airfare and hotel rooms. “It ain’t in pocket money. We make good use of it. I’m non-profit,” said Rawls, adding that the Goodman League works closely with Project GiveBack to provide meals for families at Thanksgiving and hopes to add another event for Christmas.
Looking back on Saturday’s game, Rawls wishes that he had secured a larger venue and remains disappointed that Calvin Coolidge High backed out of an earlier commitment. But he remains thrilled that the game was able to occur when many doubted that it could.
“Huge, huge, huge,” Rawls said. “Fifteen years ago when I started this, I would’ve never thunk it, that we would be playing against one of those powerhouse summer league. It’s not just huge for the summer league. Huge for the city. Huge for the Drew League. I’m sorry for the people who had legitimate tickets that did not get to see that action.”
Rawls is already hoping to schedule more summer league showdowns, with the Drew League already discussing the possibility of a rematch in Los Angeles some time in late September. He said Atlanta Hawks guard Jamal Crawford has already suggested having the Goodman League come to Seattle for an exhibition.