Drew League plans to meet with Kobe Bryant's representatives
Though plans are far from definitive, Drew League officials intend to meet with Kobe Bryant's representatives Wednesday to discuss a possible appearance in a proposed exhibition game in Los Angeles on Sept. 10 between the Drew League and Goodman League. That's according to Fred Smith, a longtime television cameraman and producer who helped the Drew League organize an exhibition game this past weekend between the two teams at Washington, D.C.'s Trinity University.
"We only have three weeks and I think it’s going to be challenging, honestly," Smith said. "But we’ll see what we can do."
One of those efforts entails luring Bryant, who appeared in a series of exhibition games last month in the Philippines and sparked continual interest in his playing for teams in Turkey and China. Last week, Bryant made a surprise appearance at the Drew League at the Col. Leon H. Washington Park gym, scoring 43 points, hitting the game-winner and leaving many, including Drew League Commissioner Oris "Dino" Smiley, believing the numerous injuries plaguing Bryant the past few seasons are behind him. "The rest has done him well," Smiley said in a phone interview. "I think he’ll have a very strong season if a season comes."
Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka of Landmark Sports Agency, didn't return calls for comment, but Smiley holds plenty of optimism Bryant would play in the proposed Drew League-Goodman League game. Said Smiley: "I would be surprised that, if it’s held in L.A., that he wouldn’t show up and play for it."
Whether this event takes place remains another issue since no venues or sponsors have been confirmed, but there are plenty of areas that give officials confidence it will happen. The likes of Toronto's DeMar DeRozan, Oklahoma City's James Harden, the Clippers' Craig Smith, Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, Washington's JaVale McGee and Sacramento's Pooh Jeter paid approximately $2,500 in travel costs to last weekend's game, league officials said, while Washington's Nick Young was the lone absent player because of apparent gripes that he wasn't named the Drew League's MVP this season. Published reports indicate crowds at Trinity University exceeded the capacity of 1,500, meaning it might be easier to draw a larger venue. And the trash talking continues to percolate between the L.A.-based Drew League and the Goodman League, which featured the likes of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Washington's John Wall and Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins.
"I think now if he sees any of the footage," Smiley said, "I can’t see him not playing."
That opens up a whole other issue.
The summer leagues offset some of the costs by launching a website, TheBasketballChannel.net, and charging $4.99 to watch the game online. Even though Smith praised the broadcast quality and the constant Twitter updates, he still described the effort as a "complete and utter failure," because the website couldn't handle the unspecified volume of traffic that Smith said spanned 20 to 25 countries.
He's currently managing refunds and rebroadcasting the game on the website this week either for free for returning users or for $1.99 for first-time visitors. One of those deserving a refund apparently includes Bryant, who Smith said had representatives talk to him last week about how he can see the game.
"I might be refunding Kobe the $4.99," Smith said, laughing. "If he writes a check, so he can make it to the next game, that'd be cool too."
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Photo: Kobe Bryant tries to make a basket while playing in an exhibition game against professional players from the Philippines in July. Bryant shot down speculation that he might play in Turkey if the NBA lockout extends into the season. Credit: Noel Celis / AFP /Getty Images