Drew League Week 9 Recap: Game of The Year MVP James Harden Season Debut

And it all came crashing down. The 26-0 Birdie’s Revenge, who needed only one more victory for the all-time Drew League record win, came up short.

“It took the Houston Rockets,” as Coach Tracey Mills said, to figure out how to take the Birdie’s Revenge empire down.

The game of the year was undoubtedly a matchup everyone had been anticipating all season, with circulating rumors that the reigning NBA MVP, James Harden, would make his Drew League season debut.

Spectators made it a priority to come early to secure a spot on the bleachers to survey the long-awaited matchup between Franklin “Nitty” Session and James Harden. A line wrapped around the corner of 120th Street outside King Drew High School showed the fanfare behind the dueling MVP’s.

Harden suited up for LAUNFD alongside his Rockets’ teammate PJ Tucker. The two joined forces with newly resigned Clippers’ center Montrezl Harrell and former Rocket, Bobby Brown.

All season long, Birdie’s has made the King Drew hardwoods their playground, and their opponents as toys to be played with, with week 8’s highlights of Franklin Session vs. Denzel Valentine attesting to that.


However, Birdie’s Revenge did not go down without a fight against LAUNFD. The first quarter of the match started off on a close run, as both teams exchanged equal energy. It was only a teaser of what to expect in the playoffs. However, Birdie’s found themselves in a second-quarter predicament as Marcus Bell got himself ejected from the game for the second time this season after things got heated up between him and PJ Tucker.

LAUNFD led 45-32 at the half, which had been the biggest deficit Birdie’s experienced all season.
Birdie’s Mike James and “Nitty” put in work, as they attempted to carry the team on their backs devoid of their big man. James ended the game with 32 points and was 7 for 10 from 3-point attempts. “Nitty” added 23 points, 6 assists, and 9 rebounds, but this wasn’t sufficient to stop Harden and Harrell.

With minutes remaining in the final quarter, Harden lobbed one to Harrell for the slam. It set the dynamism for the remaining minutes. Harrell’s showcase of dunks, Harden’s 26 points, and LAUNFD’s energy were unmatched. Undoubtedly, Harden was the X-factor in dethroning Birdie’s Revenge’s 26 game winning streak.

Sixteen teams remain, but only one will take home the coveted trophy. There will be no room for any slip-ups and excuses. Teams from here on out will have to produce to earn their respect.

 

The first round of playoffs tip-off Friday, 6:30 pm at Los Angeles Southwest College.

 

No Excuses, Pat Rembert Produces

Pat Rembert, the Drew League 2016 co-MVP and LA Loop star, adopted the “Mamba mentality” by studying and observing Kobe Bryant in the flesh every day for four years. Rembert applies that mentality when he steps on the court both at the Drew League and overseas.  

“Kobe Bryant was one of my favorite players since I was little and I was able to see him every day for four years,” Rembert said.

Bryant and Rembert went to the same gym to train in Newport Beach, Calif. That is where Rembert was able to sit in on some of the Laker legends’ workouts.

“He would be on the track at 5 a.m., then he’d be on the [basketball] court, and then he’d lift at 12 p.m.,” recalled Rembert.

It was then that Rembert realized the work it took to achieve such greatness. Rembert, who has spent the past seven seasons playing professionally overseas, lifts weights at 6 in the morning. He then trains with Drew League coach Keion Kindred from 8-10 a.m., which is followed by yoga. He has a quick lunch break and gets right back to it for another basketball court workout.

Nick Tomoyasu/LoJo Media

“Training, training, training and enjoying life,” Rembert described his offseason. “I get everything done early, that’s another thing I learned from Kobe, get everything done early so you can have your days.”

Rembert has played overseas in several countries including, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Dubai, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, and Turkey. He always finds his way back home to the City of Angels just in time for the summer. The hardwood in the King Drew Magnet High school gym on 120th Street in Compton to compete every weekend at the Drew League, an opportunity every hooper dreams of.

“I’ve had friends I played overseas with that live in New York or Ohio, that say they just wanna be able to say they played in the Drew,” said Rembert. “The competition, the crowd. I love LA, this is home. It’s nothing like it to just compete, seeing your friends, guys you look up to that are coming from the NBA every summer, it’s what I truly love about it.”

(Nick Tomoyasu/LoJo Media)

Rembert has had a tight-knit relationship with Coach Kindred since college. Kindred, who trains several players at the Drew also coaches two Drew League teams, Redemption and L.A. Loop. When Rembert first started playing at the Drew, he was playing with Redemption. Rembert’s last season with Redemption came in 2016 when he earned co-MVP honors along with Franklin “Nitty” Sessions. Rembert led the league in scoring that year and became a household name.

“I was coming back from Qatar and Keion called me and he said ‘Listen, you’re gonna have your own team this summer, it’s up to you,’” Rembert recalled. “I was always on Redemption and we always had a stacked team, so many players that were good.”

Kindred put Rembert on LA Loop the following summer, a team to make his very own and told him his one responsibility was to lead his new team to the playoffs.

His first two seasons on the LA Loop, he helped lead his team to the 2016 and 2017 playoffs. 

This summer, Rembert is focused on winning a Drew League championship. He also has his sights set on returning to the MVP conversation. With players like “Nitty” still competing at a high level, both a championship and MVP honors are never an easy feat at the Drew.

“I don’t want to say it’s difficult, it’s a challenge I like to embrace,” Rembert said of the competition. “I’ve known Frank “Nitty” and we actually train together, so it’s like something I embrace. I love competition.”

Competition is something Rembert is no stranger to having played overseas for so long. Players have different narratives on opting to play overseas, but coming from the man who has played in eight different countries, Rembert maintains that he has no regrets.  

“It was a tough situation but I’m glad I did it,” said Rembert. “You’re gonna go to a place that’s not gonna have everything you want, no Chipotle or Jamba Juice you can run to. It’s gonna be the complete opposite of what you’re every day is like.”

(Nick Tomoyasu/LoJo Media)

Playing overseas was an eye-opening experience for Rembert that allowed him to delve into unfamiliar cultures and lifestyles.

“It helps you to grow up,” Rembert remarked. “We’re in America kind of sheltered. We see certain stuff on the news, but I’ve been to the Middle East and it is not what the news says, it’s safe. It’s not what everyone portrays it to be.”

Whether it is overseas or at the Drew League, no excuses, Rembert produces. This could be Rembert’s year once again, as he strives to lead LA Loop to a Drew League championship and add another MVP award to his mantle.