Los Angeles Lakers: Goodman

How Kobe ended up at Drew League

August, 17, 2011
Kamenetzky By Andy Kamenetzky
By now, everyone knows Kobe Bryant swung by Drew League on Tuesday, racked 43 points and canned a game-winning J. That events would shake out in such fashion for Kobe isn't necessarily surprising. The real surprise was Kobe literally on hand. And as hard as it would be to keep a Mamba appearance under wraps, it was even harder just figuring out how to get the busy superstar on the court during a busy lockout.

For the inside dope, I talked Wednesday morning with longtime Drew League Commish Dino Smiley. He shared some interesting nuggets on Bryant contacting the league, the serendipity that created a mutually agreeable time, and the arsenal of moves on display.

Andy Kamenetzky: How did this come about and was this an impromptu game? Your season ended last weekend.

Dino Smiley: We had our championship this past Saturday and prior to that, a couple days before, his representatives called and said he wanted to play Saturday. I wouldn't go for it. I'm like, "This is the championship and these guys have worked hard. We don't want to just put the #1 ringer into the game. We would love to have him there, but it would set back the league, the integrity."

But we talked about it, and I said, "You know what? We haven't set up an All-Star game. Why don't we do an All-Star game on a Sunday night?" He was gonna be leaving out early Monday morning and coming back. Couldn't do it. So finally, Sunday evening, I get a call. "Kobe wants to play the game, but wants to play at two o'clock on a Tuesday." I'm like, "Two o'clock on a Tuesday? We don't play Drew League games during the week."

It was ironic, because the team [playing against Goodman] was going to have practice that day at 6 pm. So I tell him, "The guys are coming down. Let me see if I can get them to come down early. I don't want to put it on Twitter and I don't want to put it out to the media or anything like that, and the guy doesn't show up. You guys gotta give me a 110 percent that he's coming."

And they were like, "No, he's definitely coming. He definitely wants to play. And he only wants to play in the Drew league in that gym. He doesn't want to play anywhere else." And I know it's because of LeBron [James] and [Kevin] Durant. They played and got a buzz. (Laughs) We were like, "Okay, let's try to make it happen."

The game was scheduled for 2 pm, and then there was a call [Monday] morning that there was an NBA Players Union meeting at 1:30, so that threw everything off. So I said, "Okay. Well, this plan isn't gonna happen. I'm glad I didn't put it on Twitter and Facebook and the web." They said, "No, no, no! He wants to play, but he wants to play after that at 4 o'clock. The meeting should be over at 2:30, three o'clock. It shouldn't be that long. We still wanna play. Check with your players." They said they were fine, because some of them were going to the meeting also. So we set it back to four o'clock. We had people coming from everywhere at one o'clock looking for the two o'clock game and we had to push that back.

That's how all that took place and it ended up started around 4:45, 4:30.

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Nick Young
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0