Pro-Amateur Leagues Have Been Treats for Basketball Fans

Ronnie HampstonCorrespondent IAugust 17, 2011

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 10:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Kobe Bryant #24 of  the Los Angeles Lakers  during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 10, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Every summer, there are several pro-amateur leagues that feature top tier talent for the average basketball fan. This summer has a different feel because of the NBA Lockout. NBA players such as James Harden, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have made appearances at the Drew League in Los Angeles.

The Goodman League, Rucker Park and several other leagues and sites have featured the likes of John Wall, Jamal Crawford, Terrence Williams, Brandon Jennings and several other top players. The leagues have been very competitive and they are giving NBA players a chance to play against elite talent while the lockout is in progress.

Players may be barred from NBA facilities, but they are getting a chance to interact with the community. Playing in this type of setting is bigger than basketball. This is a chance for star players to play the game they love in front of those who may never be able to afford to see them in person. Some kid that may have been in attendance may never forget the moment when Kobe hit the game winning shot at the Drew League or when LeBron scored 33 points as they sat in the third row. Members of the NBA do great work with the community and it goes to show that the work in the community doesn't stop—even for a lockout.

Many pro players are being criticized for being "prima donnas," and in some cases, that may be accurate. However, even the business side of the NBA is a business that should be proud that two of their most celebrated figures are showing some humility by playing in a gym that can only seat 100 people. Maybe, just maybe, for these players, it's not about about money. If they were pressed about money, they wouldn't have risked injury to suit up against local playground legends. It is an unknown when the lockout will be resolved. So, in the mean time, instead of catching repeats of top 10 highlights on ESPN, there is a chance that the highlight factory will be at your local gymnasium.