LeBron James scores 42 points in pro-am Drew League on Saturday


LeBron James threw down an alley-oop and stared at the backboard as it rocked back and forth. 

The rim, suspended from the ceiling, is used primarily by middle school students. But on Saturday, it withstood repeated dunks by arguably the best basketball player in the NBA. 

James took a break from his summer vacation to make a cameo appearance in the Drew League, a famed pro-am basketball league held at Charles Drew Junior High School in Los Angeles. It was reported that Kyrie Irving also was supposed to play in the first of the league's six games on Saturday, though that ultimately did not happen. 

So, the marquee attraction was James, who last played in the Drew League in 2011 during the NBA lockout. LeBron did not disappoint, scoring 42 points in front of a capacity crowd that scored free tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

James received a King's welcome as he arrived at the gym, and provided some crowd-pleasing dunks during warmups.  

James, playing with DeMar DeRozan and the MMV Cheaters against the Black Pearl Elite, wore a white pinstriped No. 6 uniform and pink sneakers. With the stands at capacity, a standing-room crowd lined both baselines.

James, handling the point, mixed it up early by attacking the basket and connecting on a few threes. He scored 16 points in the opening quarter, highlighted by a spin move into the paint for the one-handed dunk. 

Late in the first half, James caught an alley-oop lobbed off the backboard and threw down the two-handed slam that resulted in the rim rocking.

He later cut to the basket on a midcourt inbounds play and cruised in for the slam, finishing the half with 26 points.  

James had four points in the third, knocking down a baseline fadeaway and converting a reverse layup off a spin move into the paint.

James hit two free throws with 2:16 remaining to put his team ahead 99-97. DeRozan followed with a pair of free throws to push the lead to four with just under two minutes remaining. DeRozan then fed a cutting James, whose two-handed dunk made it 103-97.

With the lead cut to one, James hit one of two free throws with 4.5 seconds left to push the lead to 104-102. A jumper at the other end was short as James' team held on for the win.  

James, in addition to his 42 points, added 16 rebounds and four steals.  

It was the latest NBA star offseason appearance in the Drew League, which was founded in 1973 and has featured cameos by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, James Harden and many others. 

ESPN was told earlier in the day by Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley that Irving was expected to play in the opening game and James was to play in the third. 

The news came amid trade rumors of the Lakers interest in acquiring the star guard from the Brooklyn Nets. 

Irving and James were teammates on the Cleveland Cavaliers for three seasons, leading the organization to its first championship in 2016. Irving exercised his $36.5 million player option days before Kevin Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn. ESPN reported that the Lakers have discussed a trade proposal that would include Russell Westbrook going to Brooklyn in exchange for Irving.

He might end up playing basketball in Los Angeles sometime soon, but Saturday was not the day.  

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