SteveDwriter's Blog

Reading Sports w/ SteveDwriter

Michael Beasley Kicks off D.C.’s Summer Goodman League

Miami Heat power forward Michael Beasley goes up for a dunk "inside the gates" at Washington, D.C.'s Goodman League, the city's premiere streetball league. (Photo by Khalid Naji-Allah)

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.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pink Slip Debate, Should Wiz Part Ways with Arenas?

Even Gilbert Arenas doesn't know whether or not he'll be in Washington next year (Courtesy Photo).

When the Washington Wizards won the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night, AFRO sports writers Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley went into full John Wall mode. Both Riley and Green believe the Kentucky point guard would be a welcomed addition to the Wizards as Wall should represent new life around the nation’s capital after a disastrous season.

But while both writers are set on the Wizards selecting Wall, they remain torn over what Washington should do with current point guard Gilbert Arenas. Should the Wizards jettison their once –loved star or should they hold on to him? The AFRO sports desk debates.

SDR: Forget the Cherry Blossom Festival or walks alongside the National Mall, the best scene in D.C. next year is going to be Wall and Arenas blasting down the court on fast breaks. Arenas has the size to move over to shooting guard and his experience should lead for a smooth transition for Wall as he adjust to the pros. Arenas was never much of a great floor leader but the addition of Wall might actually help D.C.’s favorite gunner (no pun intended) become a more efficient player. Wall was part of a two point guard backcourt during his tenure at Kentucky so joining a starting unit with Arenas should be a seamless transition.

PG:  There’s little doubt that John Wall could co-exist on the court with a prolific scorer like Arenas. But it’s the off-court relationship between the two that I would avoid. No disrespect to Gil, but the man is a notorious jackass. He has a long reputation for being a practical joking attention-whore willing to push the line between humor and outright disrespect. His often offensive behavior led to the breakup of the team last season, so I don’t know how wise it would be to keep him around during the rebuilding process of a new team. Everybody deserves a second chance, but Gil’s shouldn’t be here in Washington.

SDR: Good point but maybe Arenas has learned his lesson. He’s been suspended, imprisoned and ripped apart by the media. I can’t vouch for Arenas’ behavior but if the Wizards were set on dumping him then they should’ve done so already. The past is the past. Washington could eat Arenas’ contract but that would be more for proving a point than making a smart basketball decision so holding onto the controversial star might be in their best interest. Arenas is still the best scorer on the roster and his ability to play both point and shooting guard makes him a vital piece in Washington’s attempt to regain respectability.

PG:  If the mission is to gain respectability, keeping Arenas around is the last thing Washington should do. The Wizards already traded away two members of the “Big Three” so you mean to tell me you’re going to keep around the one player who has been the least productive for you during the past three seasons? Sure, trading away Gil’s contract may be very difficult, and eating the contract by simply releasing him is a bold move to make but it’s been done before. The New York Knicks reached a buy-out agreement with troublesome star Stephon Marbury just two seasons ago. They ended up eating nearly $20 million dollars in one season just because they wanted him away from their new rebuilding process.  The Wizards may be able to do the same thing by simply convincing Arenas that he has a chance for a fresh career start somewhere else in the league.

SDR: It was nothing for the Knicks to eat Marbury’s contract in 2009 because he only had one year left on his deal. Washington still owes Arenas four years and $80 million which makes him pretty tough to move. Arenas may be a lot of things but let’s not make him out to be some notorious thug who has a history of league fines, violations and suspensions. He made a mistake and paid for it. Aside from being an infamous prankster, he’s also a tireless worker who built his game up from a second round pick into one of the league’s more marketable stars before he shredded his knee. A guy with that kind of work ethic would provide a great example for an incoming wide-eyed rookie.

PG:  But see, John Wall doesn’t need Arenas to show him how to work hard. Perhaps the greatest point guard of all time, Magic Johnson, already vouched for him being a true gym rat with crazy work ethic. Wall also doesn’t need Gil around trying to haze him as most rookies are when entering the league. There are stories swirling around the Wizards locker room that Arenas once dropped a load of human feces in forward Andray Blatche’s shoe when he was a rookie.

Another story has him stealing the rims and tires off of one of his teammate’s car during a road game, and we all saw the fruits of his latest prank. And 2009 wasn’t the first time Arenas saw legal trouble. He also had a gun charge in California in 2003. When it boils down to it, Gil simply plays too much off the court and hasn’t played enough on the court when they’ve needed him the most. So how can you trust him to not disappoint, again? If I’m in charge, I sit Arenas down, offer him half of what he’s owed from his contract, and set up another team interested in his services to pay the remainder. We still got love for ya Gil, but it’s time to move on!

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

From Wall to Washington, Kentucky Point Guard a Likely Selection for Number One

The only thing faster than Wall will be the Washington Wizards' selection of the Kentucky point guard on June 24. (Courtesy Photo)

So John Wall it is! After winning the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night, Washington should waste no time running to the podium on June 24 and slapping a Wizards’ cap over Wall’s head. But what about Gilbert Arenas you ask? Well, what about him? No matter if Arenas stays or goes, Wall is the pick. The type of athletic point guard reminiscent of Rajon Rondo that can run team and control a game isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have.

Ohio State’s Evan Turner might be the more polished player and perhaps even a better fit with his size and playmaking ability but he’s simply not the headliner that Wall is. Wall’s catlike quickness, speed and leadership skills were on full display during his lone year in Kentucky’s run and fun scheme last season. Anticpated by the feats of John Calipari disciples Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans, Wall’s freshman year at Kentucky was laced with expectations but closed under the name of “Blue Jesus,” a nicknamed dubbed for Wall at local barbershops, an indicator of the success of his one year Kentucky trial. The 6-foot-4 point guard often made fools out of would-be defenders while outshining nearly every player in the country on his way to Freshman of the Year honors and finishing just behind Turner for the Player of the Year award.

Far from a finished product, Wall could use some work on his shooting and improve his decision making. A five-turnover, 7-of-18 shooting performance in Kentucky’s Elite Eight loss to West Virginia magnified that. But improving his game shouldn’t be a problem for Wall, whose work ethic scouts have raved upon. And for a player that knows he has a ways to go, results should be expected sooner rather than later.

“I’m doing everything I need to right now,” Wall told ESPN inside the home of his agent, Dan Fegan, on Tuesday night about improving his jumpshot. “You just got to get a lot of reps in, that’s all it’s going to take. I think my techniques and my mechanics [are] straight, all I [have] to do is get a lot of reps up and just keep working on it everyday.”

An improved jumper might push Wall into future All-Star considerations but his speed, passing ability and athleticism will be put to use right away in the District. Wizard fans haven’t had a player to fawn over since Arenas injured his knee three years ago and with the return of a healthy Arenas coupled with the arrival of Wall, things could be on the up and up in Washington.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment