Kevin Durant has dominated this summer with his street ball exploits all over the country, and he appeared to solidify his status as the lockout champ when he scored 44 points to lead the Goodman League to its thrilling victory over the Drew League on Aug. 20 at Trinity University. But the District native will likely face his greatest challenge of the offseason on Tuesday, when the two-time scoring champion leads another team featuring NBA talent against a squad featuring all-stars LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony at 7 p.m. at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.
“I'm in,” James told the Associated Press on Sunday.
Kurk Lee, the athletic director of Anthony’s Melo Center in Baltimore and head of the summer pro-am in his name, is organizing the event -- which he is billing as the Melo All-Stars against the Goodman All-Stars. He said Anthony was able to convince his friends James and Paul to join him for one night in the city where he grew up. Lee asked Goodman League commissioner Miles Rawls to assemble a team and serve as master of ceremony.
“With the lockout, it was a very good idea for us to do this, because a lot of NBA players are looking to play basketball,” Lee said. “They can’t be on practice facilities. They are looking to play summer league ball.”
Durant and Wizards point guard John Wall were clearly the difference at Trinity, but Rawls said Wall would not be able to team with him in Baltimore. His team will feature Durant, Jeff Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Brandon Jennings, a Los Angeles native who nearly led the Drew League to the win at Trinity. Rawls said Durant is up for the challenge.
“KD’s down for whatever,” Rawls said, adding that the game is not a Goodman League event but just a showcase of two teams.
The game was originally set for Sunday, but got pushed back because of Hurricane Irene. More details are still being finalized, since St. Frances only seats 1,000 and organizers are still in process of trying to find a larger venue to accommodate what should be a large crowd. Lee said he has reached out to Towson (where he played collegiately), Morgan State and Coppin State but the schools have yet to be receptive.
“A lot of kids are going to miss out on this game and it might be LeBron’s first and last time in Baltimore city,” Lee said. “We’ve got to take advantage of this, because very seldom are you going to see LeBron close up, like you’re going to see him on Tuesday. He’s leaving right after the game. “
Lee said tickets can be purchased at the door on Tuesday, to help avoid counterfeit tickets from being made. Doors open at 6 p.m., and tickets are available for $40 for general admission and $100 for floor seats. One hundred tickets worth $28 were sold out in less than a day. The game will also not be streamed on the Internet. Proceeds will go toward several charities with which the Melo Center is involved, Lee said.
The matchup was first reported by Hoopsworld.
The Goodman League and Drew League game was held at the 1,500 seat gym at Trinity, which led to some complications when several people with paid tickets were unable to get inside after Rawls claimed some sold counterfeit tickets. He said about 200 people weren’t allowed to attend and most have been reimbursed.
Wall is currently in Los Angeles, working out and serving as an assistant coach for the Boost Mobile Elite 24 high school basketball game, and informed Rawls on Friday that he wouldn’t be able to participate.
Jennings has been interning at the Under Armour offices in Baltimore this summer. He made several apperances at the Melo League and scored 41 points in a Goodman League game at Barry Farm, but he has elected to team with Durant over James. “He said he didn’t want to play with them,” Rawls said.
Jennings helped provide the Goodman All-Stars with an NBA guard in the backcourt, since Ty Lawson is expected to leave for Lithuania, where has signed a contract with an NBA out with Zalgiris Kaunas. Baltimore natives Gary Neal and Josh Selby aided the Goodman League in the win over the Drew League, but they will represent their hometown. Sacramento Kings forward Donte Greene, another Baltimore native, is also expected to play for the Melo League. Eric Bledsoe of the Los Angeles Clippers has also committed to play for the Melo All-Stars.
Rawls said he would probably only take about eight players. He plans to also bring Lakers second round pick Ater Majok and former Syracuse big man Arinze Onuaku. Michael Beasley had to back out of the game at Trinity after committing to play with Paul Pierce and Tyson Chandler in China. Beasley is expected to be done in China on Sunday and Rawls said he would love to him. “If he’s back, yeah.”
As for the rematch of the East-West battle with the Drew League, Rawls said they are targeting Sept. 25 as a possibility. Drew League organizers have been trying to get a commitment from Kobe Bryant,, but Rawls said he told Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley, “We’re not going to let Kobe dictate if we do a rematch or not,” Rawls said. “We going whether Kobe play or not.”