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Drew League will shut down this summer because of coronavirus

Shareef O'Neal posts up Nick "Swaggy P" Young during a Drew League game in July 2019.
(Drew League)

Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley could see it — the biggest summer yet. Inside a new home at El Camino College, imagine LeBron James suiting up next to his son, Bronny. Maybe Drake, who name-checked the league on his latest album, is calling the game on the mic.

“Being there,” Smiley said, “you never know who is coming.”

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans will have to wait. No one will be coming because the league will shutter for the first time since in was founded in Los Angeles in 1973.

“We didn’t want to shortchange what we’ve been doing. We want to bring the same energy that we’ve been doing for these past 46 years,” Smiley said. “… We just didn’t see it.”

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The National Basketball Players Association asked players in text messages if they were in favor of returning from the coronavirus shutdown.

The Drew League’s announcement came moments before the Hollywood Bowl announced it was canceling its summer calendar.

Smiley said the 2020 closure won’t affect the league’s ability to restart in 2021.

The league has evolved from a community endeavor to an international brand and a home for all kinds of summer cameos from the world’s best basketball players. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, DeMarr DeRozan, Paul George, Chris Paul and James Harden all have played in Drew League games.

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Smiley said the Drew had hoped to find a way to honor Bryant this summer after his tragic death in January. Those plans also are all on hold.

“Everyone is in agreeance,” he said. “The one thing we don’t want is for someone to get sick on our watch.”


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