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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

Can John Wall Reinvent Himself With the Clippers?

It’s easy to forget that John Wall is only 31 years old. He headlined an era that ended three eras ago. Back in 2009, he was John Calipari’s first major recruit at Kentucky, kicking off the wave of one-and-done moral panic. In 2010, an entire Reebok ad campaign was anchored by his signature shoe deal. Later that same year, he taught everybody how to Dougie and then tried to make the John Wall catch on too. To anybody older than, like, 17, this is probably all acutely incomprehensible; Wall’s cultural importance is like a scarab scavenged from ancient ruins—sure, you know it was once important, but it belongs to a culture that doesn’t exist.

On the court, he justified all the hype. When healthy, Wall was among the best point guards in the league, a proto-Ja Morant who breathed momentum into one of the NBA’s most stagnant franchises. He existed in the half-space between stardom and superstardom, making an All-Defense team in 2015 and an All-NBA one in 2017. With Wall at the helm, the Wizards were hugely successful by their standards, coming within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017. 

Then Wall functionally disappeared, his prime robbed by a ruptured Achilles tendon and the Houston Rockets. Since December 2018, he hasn’t played a single truly meaningful NBA game—his sole appearances on an NBA court took place in 40 memory-holed games during the surreal pandemic season. Last year, he was paid $41 million to not play basketball; the Rockets put him on mandatory paid leave so they could lose as much as possible. During his should-be prime, Wall barely played—and when he did he was blah. From ages 29 to 31, Wall appeared in roughly a half-season of games and played the worst since he was a rookie. He—and, most of all, his situation at large—stunk. 

But now, with Wall slated to join the Clippers once free agency begins on July 1, he’s back, literally if not figuratively. The fit is fairly obvious—the Clippers have no guards and Wall is the best guard they could conceivably acquire. If the Clippers are awash with highly-coveted mid-sized wings, they’ve long lacked a steadying backcourt presence; their infamous collapse against the Nuggets in the bubble can largely be chalked up to the fact that nobody could mellow out their fraying nerves. While Reggie Jackson spent last year manifesting his destiny as a “SGP,” he over-dipped his chip, belching forth the lowest effective field goal percentage of any guard in the NBA.  

For the first time, Wall will not be the best player on his team the next time he suits up. With the Wizards, Wall was their animating force, making an All-Defense team in 2015 and an All-NBA one in 2017. With the Rockets, he was their star by default—he was the best player because that other 11 guys were all worse. Accordingly, he now finds himself in the same situation that late-stage point guards often find themselves in, grappling with the fact that he can no longer do what he’s always done. This rupture between the past and present is what abruptly harpooned Allen Iverson’s career and has turned Russell Westbrook into a tragic figure, but Wall’s game has always mostly resisted their kind of mega-usage. 

In this sense, Wall is a necessary addition because he provides an additive skillset. Even when he was at his absolute apex, Wall was something more interesting and opaque, an ace playmaker and defender who was pressed into lead duties by necessity; Wall’s greatest achievement isn’t his individual awards so much as the fact that he single-handedly paid for Martell Webster’s and Marcin Gortat’s great-great-grandchildren’s college tuition. Ultimately, success in Los Angeles will be determined by whether John Wall embraces the idea of reinvention or if he clings to the hope of resurrection.