LeBron James Shows Off in First Drew League Appearance in 11 Years
Long. Live. The King.
In a showcase not seen by basketball fans since 2011, LeBron James made his much-anticipated return to the Drew League on Saturday. And King James did not disappoint.
A standing-room only crowd of all ages packed inside the gym at King/Drew Magnet High School in Los Angeles to witness the 37-year-old’s appearance at the renowned Pro-Am league just hours after it was announced he would be playing. The electric atmosphere set the stage for what ended up being yet another classic showing for the Lakers superstar as he joined forces with Bulls star and L.A. native DeMar DeRozan to lead the MMV Cheaters to a 104–102 victory over Black Pearl Elite in a primetime battle of unbeatens.
The thrilling back-and-forth affair featured a plethora of highlights from both All-Stars, and eventually came down to the last few possessions. With the Cheaters up 101–97 with less than 1: 30 to play, DeRozan hooked up with James for an alley-oop to increase the lead to six with 1: 23 remaining. Black Pearl soon closed the gap, setting the stage for none other than James to ice the game at the free throw line after with 4.5 seconds to go.
James went 1-of-2 at the line to give MMV just enough cushion to hang on for the victory. After pulling out all the stops as only he can, James finished the contest with 42 points, 16 rebounds and four steals, a more-than-impressive follow-up to his 33-point, 10-assist, seven-rebound effort in his Drew League debut 11 years ago. DeRozan, a Drew League legend and Pro-Am regular, ended the game with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
Form the moment James stepped foot inside the gym, it soon became clear fans in attendance and those watching the NBA’s live stream around the world were in for a unique treat.
The four-time NBA champion and MVP was swarmed by hordes of cameras and adoring supporters as he attempted to make his way to the floor. James showed his appreciation for the outpouring of love during warm-ups.
Scroll to Continue
Those fortunate enough to secure a spot for the game were also joined by celebrities such as Quavo and Warriors forward Draymond Green, both of whom are friends with James. LeBron’s former Cavs teammate Kyrie Irving was also expected to play, but didn’t show.
After missing a deep three-pointer on his first attempt shortly after tip-off, James sunk a baseline fadeaway on his next shot. Moments later, the future Hall of Famer slashed his way to the rim for a spinning, one-handed dunk in a fashion not dissimilar to his highlight-reel plays that have littered his 19-year career.
The highlights continued to roll in as both teams traded baskets down the stretch. One of James’s best plays of the day came on a vicious dunk off an inbounds pass late in the contest.
While Saturday’s exhibition may be nothing more than a historic summertime moment for the famed Pro-Am, fans eager to see how James looks as he continues preparing for another run in Year 20 should be encouraged by what they saw after he battled injuries throughout the 2021–22 season. If his performance is any indication, though, LeBron clearly still has plenty left in the tank, even if it was against lesser competition.
Check out some of the best highlights from LeBron’s Drew League return below:
More NBA Coverage:
- LeBron: Celtics Fans Are ‘Racist As F—’
- Westbrook, Agent Part Ways Over ‘Irreconcilable Differences’
- Johnson, Spurs Agree to Four-Year, $80 Million Extension
- All Lakers: NBA Finals Star Gives Big Ups to LeBron James
For more Los Angeles Lakers coverage, go to All Lakers.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.