LeBron James’ 42-point performance brightens up the Drew League; Kyrie Irving is absent

LOS ANGELES – LeBron James scored 42 points in a successful Drew League comeback while partnering with DeMar DeRozan to win 104-102 in LA’s popular pro basketball tournament on Saturday.

Longtime Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley tells ESPN he’s looking forward to brooklyn network guard Kyrie Irving to play in the game before James and DeRozan, but that didn’t happen.

“We still have a few games left today and six tomorrow, so we’ll see,” Smiley said late Saturday afternoon.

Smiley said Irving playing on Saturday “sounds like this is going to be a solid bet, but I don’t know what happened.”

While Saturday’s Drew League standings were being played near Compton, California, about 55 miles away in Thousand Oaks, a participant at Los Angeles Lakers The girls’ basketball skills camp assistant coach Phil Handy posted a video of Irving working with the campers to her Instagram account.

Handy coached Irving for five seasons while both were part of Cleveland Cavaliers organ.

Saturday’s Drew League game marked the first time the public had seen 37-year-old James play basketball in more than three months. He missed seven of the Lakers’ last eight regular games in the spring because of a left ankle sprain and missed 26 games in both 2021-22, ending up in one of those disappointing seasons. in franchise history.

“I’m 100% healthy,” James told ESPN during the first half of the action.

He finished with 42 points in 18 to 36 shooting (2 to 13 from 3), 16 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. DeRozan, a Drew League key player who invited James to play for his team and teammates from hometown Casper Ware in Southern California, scored 30 points in a 9-23 shot with 14 rebounds.

James and DeRozan’s team, known as MMV Cheaters, led the Black Pearl Elite team by seven points in the fourth quarter before returning.

DeRozan gave James a two-handed, curving pitch with 1:22 left that gave MMV another six and appeared to be in control. But BPE followed with a treble and a ball created by stealing a pass in the ring, and James was suddenly in danger when he lost his first game back to the Drew League in more than a decade.

After a timeout, MMV made a throw-in for James, who was fouled with 4.5 seconds remaining, sending him to the free-throw line with a score of 103-102.

He made the first. And then things get interesting.

“I got to the end of LeBron, and I said to him, ‘Hey, I need one [miss]”” Mike Nwabuzor of BPE, who is playing professionally abroad, said afterwards. “And he really sucked the free throw. So that was probably the best moment. But the whole game was fun. Great competition. It was great to share the court with him. “

James missed the second free throw, but BPE’s Ethan Alvano produced a 3-win game at a short start, and James raised his fist in victory.

“I think we can really do it,” said Alvano, who just signed a two-year contract to play in South Korea. “We’ve had some missteps for a long time. But man, it’s been a lifelong dream to confront, anything with LeBron James. blessings to share the court with him.”

This is James’ first appearance in the Drew League – which was founded in 1973 and has seen a pilgrimage of NBA players to the Charles Drew Middle School arena throughout the decades. – since the NBA was locked down in 2011.

“When that first happened, it was a surprise because Baron [Davis] brought him in to play, and I think he came just to watch, then he got excited when he saw the crowd and the game and then he wanted a jersey,” Smiley said. So that’s how the game goes. “

Davis was one of about a dozen former or current NBA players present to watch Saturday, a group that also included Draymond Green afterward golden empire warriors; Montrezl Harrell afterward Charlotte Hornets; and Kendrick Nunn and Talen Horton-Tucker by the Lakers.

Irving’s absence erased much of the day’s plot twists surrounding James and his former teammates.

Irving recently picked up his $36.5 million player for the 2022-23 season with the Brooklyn Nets, and James is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, though he will be eligible to sign. renew with LA starting next month .

Los Angeles has invited Brooklyn into trade talks in recent weeks to try to buy Irving in a deal that will send Russell Westbrook for the Nets, sources told ESPN. So far, those talks have not reached an agreement.

The focus was instead on the court, with James – four years into his Lakers tenure – beginning to assimilate into the LA basketball scene.

“Leave him here and come to the middle of the ‘hood’, where ordinary people look at him every day, he’s a superstar, so let him come here and grace these people with grace. his presence, I think it’s super dope,” Alvano said. “I’m glad he did it and it’s great for the community.”

Smiley added: “It was just an epic, epic afternoon of basketball.”

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