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Sports

Where Can You Find The Best Summer Pro-Am Leagues?

As a hoops fan, the dread of no college and NBA action can be a lot until you remember the game is currently getting played in its purest form. Across the country, fans are returning to old-school gyms and playgrounds to watch an assortment of players compete in Pro-Am leagues in gritter but more dynamic environments. And amongst those hosting competitions, a select group stands out above the rest.

Whether discussing Dyckman Basketball or the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, leagues of their caliber possess a “who’s who” of competing players and a memorable attending experience. The latter is why some fans don’t overly care about attending college or NBA games. Why do so when you can walk down your street and watch high-level talent up close for free?

With summer basketball approaching its halfway point, here is our list of the eight-best Pro-Am leagues.

Drew League, Los Angeles, CA

While the Drew is in the news because of LeBron’s incredible performance last weekend, the almost 50-year-old league has been a staple of nationwide summer hoops and proving ground for several upcoming and established hoopers– especially those from LA.

Dyckman Basketball, Uptown New York City

New York City is most undoubtedly known for its hoops history within the parks, and no one is currently hotter than Dyckman Basketball. From all over the world, people are making their way to Uptown to watch the game get played in its grittiest, intimate, yet entertaining way possible.

The Crawsover, Seattle, WA

Once known as the Seattle Pro-Am and run by former NBA player Doug Christie, “The Crawsover” has been entertaining and consistent like its namesake— Jamal Crawford. During its 14-year-tenure under Crawford’s watch, this league has witnessed Chris Paul and Kevin Durant, amongst other NBA stars, suit up in its uniforms.

Danny Rumph Classic, Philadelphia, PA

Despite all of the noises made within East Coast hoops because of New York City, summer hoop lovers are fans of the Danny Rumph Classic. This Philly staple proudly represents their city’s basketball movement and attracts star talent– most notably James Harden, Lou Williams, and Dion Waiters.

Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League, Atlanta, GA

Having kicked off their 10th season, the AEBL quickly made a name for themselves as a highly entertaining yet challenging league. On any given night, you’re watching the past, present, and future of Georgia hoopers compete, and you’ll never know when a star will join the party.

Miami Pro League, Miami, FL

Besides the lovely weather, beaches, and no-state income tax, plenty of college and NBA players are stopping by Florida to play in the Miami Pro League. In recent years, James Harden, John Wall, and Ja Morant have made appearances here and left an assortment of highlights that we still enjoy.

Brunson League, The State of Maryland

The DMV, short for Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, has been a hotbed for talent for a long time, with a portion of them coming from Maryland. The Brunson League became the state’s premier Pro-Am after Barry Farms, and the Goodman League held it down for quite some time.

Dreamville Chi-League Presented By Wilson, Chicago, IL

Before Dreamville and Wilson Basketball successfully relaunched the Chicago-based Pro-AM league last summer, the Chi League was one of the best leagues across the country. Once a true battleground for the city’s most immense talents, Chicago fans are now watching the next generation of hoopers take center stage, notably All-Star point guard Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Sports

What Have We Learned From NBA Free Agency So Far?

As fireworks continue lighting up across the United States in honor of Independence Day, the NBA has witnessed its share of them. Since last Thursday, the 2022 NBA free agency has kept fans, media, and even players glued to their phones in great anticipation of what could be next.

Sparked by the evolving nature of player movement, the known and unknown worked together in creating the madness we experienced during free agency’s opening stretch. While fans knew of the likelihood that Jalen Brunson would sign with the New York Knicks, we were thrown a curveball upon the news of Rudy Gobert getting traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even the broad daylight robbery of a trade done by the Boston Celtics with the Indiana Pacers threw us in for a loop.

As free agency’s opening week concludes in two days and the shift turns to the second wave of signings– while we’ll also wonder who gets traded first: Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant?– now is the perfect time to examine what has happened so far.

Here are our five biggest takeaways from the opening weekend of NBA free agency.

Why leave home when there’s a super-max deal?

Even with the combined desire by fans and media to see players leave their home teams, it’s becoming less of a reality given the introduction of super-max contracts. Fueled by incentives including All-Star and All-NBA selections, players are quickly putting pen to sheets near the end of their rookie or latest deal.

Within the first 48 hours of free agency, six super-max contracts were signed that totaled over one-point-two billion dollars (Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Nikola Jokic, Ja Morant, Darius Garland, and Zion Williamson).

Put some respect on Brian Windhorst’s name

The long-time ESPN Insider was arguably the MVP this past weekend, given his memorable explanation behind the Utah Jazz’s way of thinking before they moved All-Star center Rudy Gobert.

All meme-worthy moments aside, Windhorst’s connecting of the dots between the Jazz suddenly moving Royce O’Neale and current team CEO Danny Ainge’s willingness to start from scratch painted a great picture of what would happen in Salt Lake City.

Productive veterans will always be paid

Even for a league that is getting younger, they will always pay productive veterans– even if it’s expensive. The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, two legitimate Eastern Conference competitors, both signed or resigned productive veterans, PJ Tucker and Bobby Portis, at a combined cost and commitment of $79 million over seven years.

You never know when the trade market will be active

Minus an on and off busy night from the Draft, there wasn’t much happening in the trade market before Kevin Durant’s sudden trade request last Thursday. But you still have to remember this: Even with a busy rumor mill, it doesn’t mean trades will happen right now.

In the case of KD, the Nets can let his situation play out longer due to four years remaining on his contract. Regarding a potential Kyrie Irving for Russell Westbrook trade, the hold-up can be over one thing. And if you’re the Jazz, you must be 100% certain you want to let go of All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.

Who you got: Woj or Shams?

I’m more of a Woj guy but Shams is nice too *shrugs.

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Sports Strength

NBA Highlights From November 29th-December 5th

As everyone’s focus is to either improve or build upon what happened during the first quarter of this NBA season, the quote “iron sharpens iron” becomes a living reality. Whether it’s conference-leading teams going toe to toe or young stars taking on their idols, the season’s second quarter becomes a proving ground before the All-Star break. Below are my four takeaways from the NBA’s latest week in action!

The league’s past, present and future are having memorable battles

It’s normal for the league to have its first heavy slate of important matchups when the calendar turns to December, but it doesn’t make it less exciting. Now on a nightly basis, there’s a matchup that pits any cominbation of the league’s past, present, and future stars against each other. Accordingly, on Sunday night, we watched an incredible duel between guards Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.

Garland, the third-year Cleveland Cavalier who’s having a breakout year, had 31 points and five assists, and Mitchell, the Utah Jazz’s soon-to-be superstar, finished with 35 points and six assists in a 109-108 thrilling Jazz victory. As the game inched closer to its conclusion, both players weren’t shy to score and guard each other in the clutch while already being the two best players on the court.

The NY Knicks are struggling to build upon last season’s success

After being one of the league’s biggest surprise stories last season, the Knicks have struggled to regain that spark as they’re currently 11-12 and sitting outside of the Eastern Conference playoff race due to their ongoing three-game losing streak. And while this season’s Knicks team is more talented, they certainly don’t have the determination and focus that powered last season’s team to a surprise playoff appearance.

“We gotta look ourselves in the mirror and decide what we want the season to be,” Julius Randle said after the team’s 113-99 loss against the Denver Nuggets last Saturday. “I know what I want it to be. I know what the guys want it to be. But we have to commit to it, and that’s just really what it is.”

CanWill Damian Lillard find his swagger before it’s too late?

To say it’s been a crazy handful of months for Lillard is an understatement. In between readjusting to a new head coach, daily rumors surrounding his unhappiness with the Portland Trail Blazers, and him and the team’s constant struggles, Lillard now has one more problem: injuries.

The multi-time All-Star will be out of action for at least ten days due to an abdominal injury, and it couldn’t have happened at the worst time. Despite averaging his lowest points per game average since his third NBA season (2014-’15), Lillard was beginning to regain his previous form, as witnessed by his 39 and 32-point performances against the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings between November 20th-24th.

The Thunder are simply bad and there isn’t much to say about that

While it’s already unfathomable that the Oklahoma City Thunder lost by 73 points last Friday, it’s crazier when you realize they lost by 57 points less than six months ago. And even though the NBA can’t do anything about the Thunder and their rare, historic losses, some say an eye should be kept on their performance moving forward.

In the spirit of competitiveness and further eliminating the thought of tanking, which at one point plagued the mind of sports fans, the Thunder must turn the corner in that department, even if it doesn’t produce a more wins.