Friday night’s twilight game at the Goodman League was more about the hoopla than the hoops on a cool evening in the District. The scent of grilled barbeque decorated the air at Barry Farms’ basketball court while announcer Miles Rawls provided the jokes for those in attendance. When the crowd wasn’t enjoying the surrounding festivities, they were enjoying a barn burner between Team Ooohs and Ahhs and the Maryland Greenhawks. The Greenhawks, headlined by Randy “White Chocolate” Gill, raced down to the wire with Ooohs and Ahhs, edging them 91-84.
In a high scoring shootout, both teams forced the ball downcourt relentlessly as fastbreaks were pushed whenever the opportunity presented itself. Usually when two teams run and gun to the extent of Friday’s action, the term “bring your track shoes” is often used as an illustrative description. But one player on Team Ooohs and Ahhs took the saying to heart and Rawls made sure to take it to him.
“Look at the new guy checking in with the track shoes on,” Rawls joked. “He must have had those on his grocery list for K-Mart. Milk, toilet tissue and new shoes.”
It was that type of night at the Goodman, where the atmosphere of a storied city basketball league could’ve easily been mistaken for a summer family cookout. Rawls does an excellent job of compensating for entertainment whenever the games lack the star power of top name professional ballers. Although the night featured famed And 1 hoopster Gill and a few other familiar ballers, it was mostly staffed full of miscellaneous first names that members of the crowd had never heard of.
Former Tennessee point guard Bobby Maze led the Greenhawks with 31 points while Wade added 24. Boo and Chris Matt both added 24 points for Ooohs and Ahhs in the defeat. Names like Wade, Boo and Chris Matt aren’t going to pack the bleachers but their games are impressive. Both Maze and Wade showcased their slashing abilities as they got to the basket when they wanted, whenever they wanted. Boo and Matt are excellent one on one scorers who should help the Greenhawks remain an attractive team to watch for as the summer progresses.
Kevin Durant showed up for his Washington, D.C. Goodman League summer debut on Sunday with lots of people to please but little to prove. After all, the NBA’s reigning scoring champion did give spectators at Barry Farms something to remember last summer with a 62-point outburst.
Topping that feat would’ve been difficult for even the modest NBA 2K champion, let alone the NBA’s leading scorer. But fans didn’t withstand the sweltering heat and bypass the first half of Sunday night’s NBA Finals to see the extreme; they just came to show support for one of the best home-grown ballers in the league do his thing. And Durant answered their wishes.
His performance wasn’t 62-point-esque but Durant’s 35 points raised enough ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from a packed crowd to grade his Goodman League debut as a success. Playing alongside the Washington Wizards’ Andray Blatche, Durant and Blatche dazzled at times “inside the gates” for their 3rd Eye ball club. The Oklahoma City Thunder forward launched the first shot of the game; a three-pointer that grazed off the rim before executing a spin move on his next possession and finishing with a one-handed dunk. That would turn into an ongoing theme for much of the night for the 21-year-old nicknamed “KD.” While his normally reliable jumpshot wasn’t falling, KD was busy attacking the rim and finishing strong with two-handed and one-handed rim rattlers. Clapping his hands after explosive finishes and face-flexing to the crowd.
“KD is officially here at the big show,” announcer Miles Rawls bellowed whenever Durant would throw down one. Watching the 6-foot-10 scoring machine glide up and down the court with his smooth handle and crossovers galore made a few onlookers shake their heads in disbelief but if you’ve been watching Durant emerge as one of the NBA’s best players over the last three seasons then the display came as no surprise.
Durant wasn’t the only NBA specimen impressing. Much like his Wizards’ responsibilities, Blatche did a little bit of everything on Sunday. Rebounding, passing and scoring, Blatche recording a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ on his own courtesy of some slick crossovers and a few athletic finishes. But while NBAers Blatche and Durant were starring, it was Team Cricket’s pair of And 1 superstars Hugh “Baby Shaq” Jones and Lonnie “Prime Objective” Harrell that stole the show. Following along the lines of his And 1 exploits, “Baby Shaq” made play after play during the evening’s twilight game, scoring at will and swishing the final shot in overtime that sent Durant and his 3rd Eye team home losers on the night.
Despite the defeat, Durant’s presence alone made winners out of the neighborhood kids who arrived by the masses to come see him. With their fingers pointed in amazement and juice stains decorating their shirts, star-struck youngsters applauded Durant’s every move and grinned in excitement with his every dunk. Durant didn’t have to top 60 on the evening; he just had to show up. And for local D.C. residents on Sunday night, that’s all anybody could ask for.
“They say he’s an All-American, well show me something!” one spectator demanded. “This ain’t no Catholic league son, it’s the blacktop,” another bystander informed. The vultures were out in cut throat fashion and ready to pounce on Tuesday at D.C.’s Goodman League. With their sights set on DeMatha High School’s decorated point guard Quinn Cook, the highly coveted junior didn’t disappoint, it just took him a while to get going.
Making his second appearance at the storied ballpark, Cook gave way his starting position to a longtime Goodman veteran on his Drama Detail team. But once his dues were paid, it was time for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Player of the Year to cash in. Cook entered the game shortly before the half but missed his first three-pointer and had his reverse layup pinned on a fastbreak, a shaky start for the 16-year-old.
On defense, famed streetballer Randy “White Chocolate” Gill had his intentions set on going after “the youngster,” as he was referred to repeatedly by announcer Miles Rawls. Isolated against Cook at the top of the key, the Madness team’s point guard dribbled and dazzled but the DeMatha star was unfazed, staying in front of Gill and deflecting his dribble out of bounds.
The strong defensive stand got “the youngster” going as he would knock down his next two shots; a quick layup and a deep jumpshot that eased the hecklers off his back. Cook started the second half similar to how he finished the first, swishing jumpshots and dishing out no-look passes.
He drew a few claps from an applause-stingy crowd on a double-pump layup, drawing the foul and the basket before converting the free throw. His Drama Detail team would eventually run the Madness squad off the court through a series of fast breaks and highlight dunks.
This summer’s Drama Detail team is strong, with athletic big men and a slew of guards. They’ll be tough to handle for opponents throughout the season.
It’s not easy playing at the Goodman league and for a fresh-faced youngster from a Catholic high school, nerves would typically get the best of most kids, but Cook isn’t your average Xbox-playing adolescent. Day two of the Goodman league featured several quality players but when a high school star comes to visit, attention flags are immediately raised. Cook didn’t explode for 30 or 40 points but he did impress, a performance even the courtside critics had to acknowledge.
“I wanted to come out and have a good game and I think I did that,” Cook said. Any spectator sitting courtside at the Goodman League on Tuesday can vouch for that.
The crowd wasn’t nearly as thick, the players not nearly as explosive but it was still the playground to be at if you were a Washington, D.C. local on Monday. June 7 marked the first day of the new season of D.C.’s summer streetball classic, the Goodman League, a 29-year running blacktop basketball tradition. Buried in the heart of the District’s Barry Farms neighborhood, the court has seen some of the finest play “inside the gates” as Miles Rawls would say.
Rawls is the play-by-play announcer/instigator/unofficial comedian who heckles players when they choke on point blank lay ups and praises them when their finishes draw ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd. Rawls has seen the likes of NBAers Gilbert Arenas, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Aundray Blatche, Sam Cassell and Micheal Beasley grace the rims and embarrass local defenders “inside the gates.” Durant went off for 62 points last summer, cementing his status as a certified baller, which was already at a high praise for the Suitland, Md native amongst Metro area followers.
Beasley, a Maryland native and league regular, was at it again on Monday, hanging on rims, dropping in jumpshots and one-handing rebounds (I stopped count at 20). Despite his NBA pedigree, Beasley’s Sweat Mob dropped a heartbreaker at the buzzer to the league’s two-time defending champion Shooters club on a last second putback. Headlined by local legend Andrew “Spongebob” Washington, team Shooters put on a show for first day attendees, who didn’t start to pack the grounds until the 8 p.m. tipoff.
Spongebob vs. Beasley drew the crowds out their seats for standing room only after a lackluster 6 p.m. game. When onlookers weren’t marveling at Beasley’s every dribble, they were widening their eyes to Spongebob’s hops. A near poster just missed the print as Spongebob’s attempted one-handed dunk over Beasley was saved by a foul call. It was streetball at its finest; a famed professional city leaguer against a local acclaimed city legend. All for free.
Since the late ’70s, high profile matchups like Beasley vs. Spongebob has been on full display for city basketball buffs. Erected by Ervin Brady, Carlton Reed and Morty Hammonds, the league began as the Barry Farms Community Basketball League before switching names to the George Goodman League in honor of the legendary Barry Farms community activist. Today, you can mention any number of aliases around the city and each one would be acceptable. “The Farms,” “The Goodman,” or “The Gates,” speak any name on a passing train or a Metro bus and you might open a story from a life-long league regular.
Monday was just the start of a summer-long showcase. The stands will increase in capacity, the names will grow in popularity and the weather will blaze a little hotter (the weather was a brisk 78 at game time on opening day) as the summer carries on. If Monday was a preview of what to expect, it should be another great season of summer streetball “inside the gates” at Barry Farms.