Rockets guard James Harden still a Drew League favorite

James Harden helped lead the LAUNFD team past the Problems team, which featured Lakers Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young.
(Jesse Dougherty / Los Angeles Times)

Cars circled the parking lot looking for spots that didn’t exist. A line stretched from the gym’s glass doors to the curb. If someone wanted to watch Drew League basketball Sunday afternoon, they were going to have to wait.

“Is there someone big playing inside?” said a man at the back of the line, standing on his toes to see how much longer he’d have to wait.

Indeed there was. Houston Rockets guard James Harden was making his first Drew League appearance of the summer.

Harden led LAUNFD, the Drew’s defending champions, against a Problems squad that featured Lakers guards Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young. By the time the crowd inched into the packed gym at King Drew Magnet High, Harden had LAUNFD on the way to a 98-76 victory.



He knifed through the lane and dunked on one possession. On another, the four-time NBA All-Star slowly rocked his dribble down the left side of the court and hit his patented leaning jump shot. Just before coming out with around five minutes left in the fourth quarter and the clock running, former NBA point guard Pooh Jeter bounced an alley-oop pass off the court and Harden leaped from just inside the free-throw line to throw it in.

Harden then laughed with the crowd and did his signature celebration, raising his right hand in front of his face and stirring an imaginary pot with his left. He has been a Drew League favorite over the years, once going toe to toe with Kobe Bryant and making regular appearances since.

When he exited the game most of the crowd filtered out of the gym, even the ones who spent 45 minutes in line to watch him run up and down for a few minutes.

Follow Jesse Dougherty on Twitter @dougherty_jesse