Kobe declines to play in pro-am showcase
Kobe Bryant(notes) made a guest appearance in the Drew League on Tuesday afternoon and thrilled the crowd by making the game-winning shot. But it doesn’t look like the Los Angeles Lakers guard will represent the Los Angeles-based pro-am league in the nation’s capital on Saturday.
Bryant scored 43 points and hit a jumper at the buzzer to give his team a 129-127 victory Tuesday in Los Angeles. Afterward, Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley asked Bryant if he would like to represent the league in an exhibition against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant(notes) and Washington’s Goodman League on Saturday night in D.C.
Bryant, however, has since declined the invitation.
“We asked Kobe and he smiled at it, but he didn’t commit,” Smiley told Yahoo! Sports.
The Drew League has had NBA players suit up for years since it began in 1973. But with the NBA in a lengthy lockout, All-Stars such as Bryant, Durant and LeBron James(notes) have suited up this summer, bringing a spotlight to the league in L.A.’s Watts neighborhood.
Smiley said a Bryant representative called last week to see if Bryant could play in last Saturday’s championship game. Bryant wasn’t eligible because he didn’t play in the regular season, so Smiley set up a game on Tuesday afternoon which also included NBA players James Harden(notes), DeMar DeRozan(notes), Craig Smith(notes), Ed Davis(notes) and rookie Derrick Williams(notes).
In front of a packed crowd, Harden engaged Bryant by talking a lot of trash and scoring a game-high 47 points. But Bryant got the last laugh by making a 17-foot jumper over Harden at the buzzer to win the game as the crowd chanted, “Kobe! Kobe!”
“Kobe put his hands in the air like he was Rocky Balboa,” Smiley said. “The crowd ran onto the court and he soaked it all in.”
Smiley said NBA players on the Drew League’s roster for Saturday’s game in D.C. include Harden, Williams, DeRozan, Smith, Brandon Jennings(notes), Javale McGee(notes) and Pooh Jeter(notes). Williams replaced Washington Wizards guard Nick Young(notes) on the roster, Smiley added, because Young is upset about not being named MVP of the Drew League. That honor was given to Long Beach State senior guard Casper Ware, who was voted in by the fans via the Internet.