By: Lauren Jones
Kobe Bryant sitting courtside, Frank Robinson hits clutch game-winning shot, 8th seed takes over, the NBA stars v. the NBA bench: an oral history of the 2013 Drew League Championship Finals, between Hank’s Blazers and Kings of LA
Wormley to Robinson, Robinson pulls up for 3 to extend the Blazers lead to 5. ROBINSON DRAINS THE 3 with the clock winding down. Kings of LA won’t have another opportunity to score. The Blazers WIN.
The moment that every basketball player dreams of…the look, the release, nothing but net. Frank Robinson embraced the moment that every basketball player fantasizes about — hitting the game winning shot.
It’s the shot that resonates. It’s the shot that leaves a legacy. It’s the shot that makes a lasting impression.
Not only did he hit the shot, but he did it in front of one of the greatest NBA players to ever step foot on the hardwood, Kobe Bean Bryant. A nod of approval and a fist pound from the Black Mamba was all Robinson needed to confirm he was officially apart of an elite club — the players who close the game with game-winning shots.
The Drew League is the ideal place for players like Robinson; the ones who may not ever land an NBA contract, but at the Drew they have the opportunity to showcase their talent and be recognized for it.
“It’s the Drew. It’s something that coming through high school and college, we all came and watched,” Robinson said. As a professional in his fourth year at the Drew, Robinson says he just knew it was his time. “I just felt like it was an opportunity to make a name for myself, make a name for the Blazers.”
And so begins the oral history of the 2013 Drew League Championship Finals between Hank’s Blazers and the Kings of LA, which features the participants and the witnesses to the championship game. Back in time – the finals…summer 2013.
I. The Winning Formula – Hank’s Blazers had a slow start to the 2013 season. The roster did not really come together until the season was well underway when the pros were able to join the action.
Roderick (Hank’s Blazers, Head Coach): “The hardest part is putting the team together, the easy part is the character of the players knowing that you have some savvy vets along with some role player pros.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “With Rod, he gets a good group of guys. he doesn’t put a leash on them.”
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “Think about it from our standpoint as having a team with no big names. I’m from the valley, I’m not really from the ‘LA scene.’ You got Ryan [Hollins] and Horace [Wormley, aka the Gingerbread Man] who are from Pasadena, Malcolm [Thomas] who’s from San Diego. We’re outsiders in a way.”
Horace Wormley (Hank’s Blazers, Point Guard): “We got the opportunity to play with our boys that we grew up with in a championship game. Me and Ryan went to the same high school. I’ve known Frank since I was like 13. It’s just like Game of Thrones, the Stark family.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “The key is that It wasn’t really one guy. Each time we needed them, someone else different stepped up.”
II. The Opponents – The Kings of LA were headlined by NBA veteran Dorell Wright and anchored by his NBA friends. They were highly competitive, stacked with NBA talent. With all of their players hot, they were a team no one wanted to see.
AJ Diggs (Kings of LA, Head Coach): “A lot of our guys played for our other coach, Coach Morris in high school. Obviously Dorell being an NBA guy, he was able to bring some of his friends and his little brother Delon out.”
Jason Beresford (Drew League DJ): “The defense of Delon Wright leading up to the championship was impressive.”
Keion Kindred (Basketball Trainer): “They had Dorell Wright, Mike Taylor, Amir Johnson, Jeff Adrien, guys who actually play in the NBA.”
III. Scene Setting – The championship game had to be rescheduled over a week after the semi-finals took place due to several scheduling conflicts. The evening of Tuesday, August 20th 2013, the two teams finally suited up.
Chaniel Smiley (Drew League Commissioner): “It was my birthday, August 20th. It was intense everybody lined up. At first we thought we weren’t going to have many people show up, but the crowd came through. The line was long.”
Jason Beresford (Drew League DJ): “It was Tuesday, a school night. There was energy as soon as you walked in there.”
Chaniel Smiley (Drew League Commissioner): “People came from work with their work clothes still on just to see the championship game and it just brought back a lot of memories from the Drew Middle School days, how compressed we were in the gym on a Tuesday night. I think we were serving BBQ that night too.”
IV. The Game
Jason Beresford (Drew League DJ): When they introduced each team, seeing that I was not a big fan of the Blazers I played Master P’s “Make’em Say Uhh.” For the Kings of LA, I played David Banner’s sample of Coming to America, “On Everything,” and everyone likes that one, so I was hyped.”
Roderick (Hank’s Blazers, Head Coach): “The hardest part was being the #8 seed taking on the #1 seed [LAUNFD in the semi-finals], so I knew once I got over that #1 seed, it was going to be pretty much a smooth ride.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “No one wants to be the 8th seed, but once you get to the playoffs it’s a new ball game.”
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “We had a big lead early.”
Horace Wormley (Hank’s Blazers, Point Guard): “Malcolm Thomas dunking on D. Wright had to be one of the highlights of the game, which was just like we felt like we had the game in our hands even though it was still early.”
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “I remember they made a run.”
Dino Smiley (Drew League, Commissioner): “The game was very competitive and the Black Mamba walked in around the 2nd quarter, the crowd got revved up, the players got revved up.”
Jason Beresford (Drew League DJ): “That brought the energy level from a 10 to a 12; the music was going. I was as excited as if I had a jersey on even though I was behind the turntables.”
Horace Wormley (Hank’s Blazers, Point Guard): “From a personal standpoint, I think the turning point was getting the lob to Ryan [Hollins], for a point guard to feed his big and just in-the-flow of the game was huge.”
Aaron Smarter (Drew League, Super Fan): “I’m a Clippers fan, so it was cool to see the last Clipper standing in the Drew League, Ryan Hollins, actually being useful on the basketball court.”
AJ Diggs (Kings of LA, Head Coach): “It was a tough game for us. I want to say we were down by 15 points in the 4th.”
Chaniel Smiley (Drew League Commissioner): “ I just thought oh well this is probably going to be a blowout game. We don’t want our championship game to be a blowout.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “Honestly, we were playing well the entire game and then we gave up the lead.”
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “D. Wright started getting hot.”
Aaron Smarter (Drew League, Super Fan): “I definitely forgot Dorell Wright was an NBA player until that game. He was ballin’ like he was playing for a contract.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “Dorell was the one really, he was the guy who made big shots. We were trying to keep him from getting going and keep everyone from getting hot like he did.”
Dino Smiley (Drew League, Commissioner): “Down the stretch in the final seconds of a 1-point game, an NBA player I won’t name names went to the basket ahead of the back at 6’7” being chased down by a 5’6” Gingerbread man and you know what they say, ‘Run, run fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread Man.’ Well the Gingerbread Man was doing the chasing and he caught up to him and something miraculous happened to the NBA player where well…you know the rest. That was a major moment.”
Jason Beresford (Drew League DJ): “Gingerbread Man! His speed, driving down the lane, not being afraid to go against the big guys in the post. That performance made me a fan of his.”
Joel Rosborough (Hank’s Blazers, Assistant Coach): “Just 4th quarter, you know, when you’re playing up against another championship team they’re going to make runs. So when they made their run and Frank got that last shot we needed him to get off. That was, to me, the defining moment of the game.”
V. The Shot – Frank Robinson Hits the 3-pointer of his Career
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “It was amazing in that atmosphere to do it, but honestly I feel like it’s something that we practice everyday — the actual shot and the preparation for it, and the release; it was all about the timing and knowing it was going in.”
Keion Kindred (NWA, Co-Head Coach): “Seeing Frank Robinson hit a clutch shot, with the gym sold out, Kobe Bryant courtside. He’s one of those guys who plays professionally overseas, who hasn’t made it to the league and just doesn’t get the notoriety that he deserves. For him to make that shot in front of Kobe and for everyone to show him praise, it was like I was finally able to see Frank make it.”
Roderick (Hank’s Blazers, Head Coach): “When Frank Robinson, right in front of Kobe Bean Bryant, knocked down the 3-pointer and really sealed the deal.”
AJ Diggs (Kings of LA, Head Coach): “We wanted to win as badly as they did, and unfortunately Frank made a big shot and was able to take them home. One stop, we go down and we knew we weren’t going to get a basket. For him to put them up by 5 or 6, definitely clinched the game.”
AJ Diggs (Kings of LA, Head Coach): “It was heartbreaking to get that far and end up losing, but it was a great game for the fans and that’s what the Drew is all about.”
Chaniel Smiley (Drew League Commissioner): “Everyone ran on the court. It looked like the NBA Finals where all the cameras swarm in the middle of the court and everyone came to congratulate them.”
Frank Robinson (Hank’s Blazers, Shooting Guard): “When I joined the team, halfway through the year, I told Rod ‘We’re winning a championship. he kind of laughed at me, but I felt like I made a promise to him.”
Keion Kindred (NWA, Co-Head Coach): “It was just great to see a team win a game because it took a team effort to beat Kings of LA who had four pros and you had the players who play for the Blazers who aren’t prominent NBA pros, who don’t play much in the NBA.
Keion Kindred (NWA, Co-Head Coach): “To see the Blazers knock off the 3x defending champions LAUNFD in the semi-finals and then beat Kings of LA who beat us [NWA] in the first round, I was happy being that I work with half the Blazers team.”
And the dream continues — Drew League summer 2014.
Lauren Jones is the co-editor of DrewLeague.com and has been with the league for the past three years. She is also a recent graduate of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism where she earned her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and Sports Media Studies. She currently works as a freelance journalist with her work published on sites such as Yahoo! and SB Nation. Her long term career goal is to be an on-air sports reporter and an entrepreneur specializing in financial literacy, crisis and brand management for professional athletes. Her past internship experiences include working for the Los Angeles Clippers, USC Athletics Dept., BET and EAG Sports Management.