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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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LeBron James Returns To The Drew League and Dominates

For the first time in 11 years, LeBron James stepped on the floor of the Drew League and entertained a sold-out gym in Los Angeles, CA, on Saturday. Having last played in LA’s famous Pro-Am league during the summer of 2011, watching the four-time NBA MVP and champion play during this time of the year was a rare sight. But all it took was an invite from Chicago Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan to change that.

DeRozan is beyond a regular in the Drew League; he’s essentially a staple, a walking tradition you expect but appreciate whenever you watch him in that environment. And by having his own team, the MMV Cheaters, the proud Compton, CA native is free to create competitive advantages and unforgettable moments like the one on Saturday.

The Drew League faithful was more than welcoming to James as he walked on the court to a loud ovation. Rocking his signature No. 6 and a pink colorway of his upcoming LeBron 20, the NBA’s second-highest all-time scorer was locked in from the start as he eventually dropped 42 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in a 104-102 victory.

Whether before or during James’s performance, fans’ reactions to what occurred didn’t disappoint.

And it was easy to spot the look of amazement (or fear) players had guarding LeBron

Which players would you love to see play at Drew League, Dyckman Park, and other famous Pro-Am leagues across the country?

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Sports

Nike’s NYvsNY Tournament Has A Fun Night At Dyckman

Since its launch five summers ago, Nike’s “NYvsNY” summer tournament has provided great energy in New York City’s reemerging basketball scene. With five of the best city parks (reigning champion Dyckman Park, Lincoln Park from Queens, West 4th, Tri-State, and Watson Basketball Classic) competing in a nearly-two month-long tournament each week is guaranteed to have great action.

On Tuesday night (June 28th), the second week of the 2022 NYvsNY tournament took place at Dyckman Park. As always suggested by Dyckman’s team, early arrival was encouraged as the park was already halfway packed an hour before game time. But soon, in front of a packed house, with barely any room to move, the first of two games got underway between Lincoln Park and West 4th.

While NYC’s summer hoops can consist of all three levels (youth, college, and pro), NYvsNY serves as a big stage for the former. With each park consisting of their area’s brightest high-school talents, you’re often staring at the game’s future. Guards come in all shapes and sizes but possess the same skillset. The big-men jump so high you think they were playing on a trampoline. And it becomes more surreal once you remember they’re in high school, where their age ranges from 14-18.

But we did witness a bit of everything on Tuesday. After having a memorable 17-point comeback win last week, Lincoln Park followed up with another one and pushed their record to 2-0. The reigning NYvsNY champion, Dyckman Park, cruised to an 18-point victory and entertained their home crowd. With the first two weeks of action concluded, three weeks of regular season play are remaining before the playoffs begin on August 2nd.

Click here to learn more about the 2022 Nike NYvsNY tournament!

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Joe Johnson and Michael Beasley Shine In BIG3 Season Opener

Since launching five years ago, the BIG3 has provided fans with a fun and reliable source of professional basketball during summertime. Between being a platform spotlighting many familiar names who played in the NBA to reigniting a few of their returns to the league, the anticipation of the 2022 BIG3 season was high before its opening weekend, June 18th and 19th, in Chicago, IL.

Headlined by the defending champion Trilogy going toe to toe with reigning two-time BIG3 MVP Joe Johnson and former No. 2 overall pick Michael Beasley making his debut, the action was jam-packed at Credit Union One Arena. And as someone attending their first-ever BIG3 event, I was certainly intrigued by what it entailed.

Even in a three-on-three, half-court setting, the NBA-caliber skillsets from BIG3 players were still evident, as well as their energy. But when aided by a unique twist to that classic half-court staple (The first team to 50 points wins, four-point shots and specific calls are handled by players playing one-on-one), it’s not a surprise the Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz-founded league is a success.

Here are my three takeaways from the BIG3’s opening weekend.

Joe Johnson is still Iso Joe

Another day, another reminder of how much a bucket Joe Johnson is. Even at 40 years old, the 17-year NBA vet still possesses an incredible knack at scoring from all three levels on the floor, and that was evident on Saturday– 30 points in the Triplets’ 51-45 victory over the reigning champion, Trilogy.

Michael Beasley is still one of the most talented players, we’ve seen

While his NBA playing career didn’t turn out as planned, there’s no doubt Beasley is one of the most talented players we’ve seen over the past decade and a half. Still at 6-foot-8 and in peak shape, the former No. 2 overall pick had a great showing in his BIG3 debut. Playing for 3’s Company, Beasley effectively and efficiently scored 26 points in the team’s 50-47 victory over Bivouc.

Rick Mahorn’s Aliens have a lot to be happy about

While they didn’t make the playoffs last season, the Aliens have the potential to do so this year. Led by BIG3 championship-winning coach Rick Mahorn, the Aliens had a strong showing on Sunday.

In their 52-44 victory over the Enemies, the Aliens’ dynamic duo of Dusan Bulut and Karlis Lasmanis scored a combined 40 points and displayed a clear sense of comfort in playing three on three– given their experience of playing in FIBA’s three-on-three tournaments.