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Lakers' LeBron James to Take Part in Drew League for 1st Time Since 2011

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2022

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is reportedly expected to make his long-awaited return to the Drew League on Saturday.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported the news and noted it'll be the first time since 2011 that James will suit up for the annual Pro-Am showcase in L.A.

The Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan hinted the NBA's longtime gold standard will be joining his squad, the MMV Cheaters:

DeMar DeRozan @DeMar_DeRozan

👑xDbo <br>Drew league tomorrow <br>👀

Here's a look at the league's full Week 6 schedule:

Drew League @DrewLeague

Week 6 of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheDrew?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheDrew</a> tips of tomorrow at 11 AM. <br><br>🗓 A look at this weekend’s schedule of games, highlighted by a battle between 5-0 MMV Cheaters and 5-0 Black Pearl Elite.<br><br>Let us know if you plan on coming through! <a href="https://t.co/v0d7k1iXGQ">pic.twitter.com/v0d7k1iXGQ</a>

James' decision to take the floor in the Drew League is a promising sign after he was limited to 56 appearances during the 2021-22 season because of various injuries, including a sprained ankle that forced him to miss the final stages of the campaign in April.

The Drew League was established in 1973, but it reached another level in 2011 because of an NBA lockout that began on July 1 of that year and ultimately ran through early December.

James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and James Harden were among the high-profile players who used The Drew as a way to keep in game shape while waiting for a resolution.

LeBron's first appearance was brokered by former NBA point guard Baron Davis, and it even caught the league's commissioner, Oris "Dino" Smiley, off guard.

"I got a call from Baron Davis that day," Smiley said in 2013. "He said, 'I have a surprise for you today.' A few hours later, a couple of black SUVs pull up to our gym. When the doors open, King James hops out. I'm thinking: 'This is great. He's just coming to hang out and take in some of the games at The Drew.' Little did I know, he was coming down to play in one of our games."

As expected, James dominated with 33 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in his debut.

The 2021-22 season was tumultuous for the Lakers—who missed the playoffs with a 33-49 record after entering the year with championship-level expectations—and that's carried into the offseason with an endless stream of trade rumors, mostly focused around Russell Westbrook.

In April, James said he wouldn't provide input on what the front office should do over the summer unless asked directly.

"That's not my decision," he told reporters. "It's not my decision to sit here and say, 'Well, this is what we should bring back and have on the roster.' That would be the front office's decision."

As L.A. continues to work on its squad, the Drew League appearance will give fans a glimpse at King James' preparations for the 2022-23 campaign.

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