As much as I love watching James Harden put your local YMCA All-Star on skates it’s time we take a look at the Drew League and other leagues like it. It’s only a matter of time until one of these NBA players ends up seriously injured and it costs a team their season.
During a game against top team Birdie’s Revenge, James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Montrezl Harrell took the floor to take on the best the Drew League has to offer. Harden squared off with 2x Drew League MVP Frank “Frank Nitty” Sessions. Session demonstrated his ability to score on NBA talent during a game against Denzel Valentine where he dropped 44 points.
The issue with the Drew League has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with player safety. Multiple incidents occurred during Harden’s Drew League appearance that are a sign for concern.
Late in the first half, Harden is being guarded by Sessions at the three point line. Harden performs his signature step back to create space to get the shot off. The play seems insignificant until the camera flashes back to Harden rolling on the ground grasping at his ankle. Sessions had closed out on Harden’s shot inevitably leading to Harden rolling his ankle. You can watch the clip here:
There was no malicious intent on the play. Sessions is simply attempting to contest Harden’s shot. This is the exact problem with the Drew League when it comes to professional athletes participating in it. Harden makes a lot of money to play basketball for Houston. He can’t play basketball for Houston if he breaks his ankle playing basketball during the summer at the Drew League. The play that occurred is far from a freak accident and it’s only a matter of time until we see some sort of serious injury.
In addition, P.J. Tucker found himself in an aggressive exchange with center Marcus Bell. Again, the situation that arose is far from out of the ordinary in basketball. During the NBA season players find themselves nose to nose with opponents on a semi-regular basis. The issue is not with the incident itself but with where the incident occurred. If Tucker gets into an exchange that leaves him injured during the NBA season, it would still be stupid. But, at least if it happened during the season it would be justifiable. If it happens in a pick up gaming during the summer its just flat out selfish.
So what’s it going to take before the NBA steps in and cuts down on these non-NBA appearances? I may enjoy watching Harden fool around in the Drew League but I sure do enjoy watching him play in the NBA more. Had he been injured the Rockets season would have been derailed. The risk players like Harden and Tucker run when they lace up for these game is far too high. For a team that invests millions of dollars into these guys I can’t imagine ownership is a fan of what they saw either. It’s in the best interest of the players, the owners, and the league itself that NBA players halt their participation in the Drew League.