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 against 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 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 of 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 have 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 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 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.