The Goodman League: Much bigger than basketball

Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley and John Wall are just a few of the big name athletes to make a name for themselves at the famous "Goodman" basketball league in Southeast, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC(WUSA9) - Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, and John Wall are just a few of the high-profile NBA athletes who have earned their street cred on the blacktop at the Goodman summer league.

It's been in existence for 42 years and is arguably the number one summer league in the country.

"You on TV," says Miles Rawls to the referee at a Goodman League basketball game. "Tuck your shirt in Melvin, and keep it straight. I want the people to see what I’m doing for returning citizens." The crowd, filled with people from different walks of life, erupts in laughter. Rawls is just getting his act started.

A Barry Farms native is in his 21st year as the comical commissioner and MC of the Goodman League. During the day, he works as a federal officer the for Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service.

The league features free games between streetball legends, pros and neighborhood talent from June to September. Thirty-six teams make up the league (back in the day, the league had eight teams) and games run throughout the week in the evening.

"I know the game," Rawls comments about what separates him from MCs of other leagues. "I'm the number one play-by-play man in the land for this. I'm not just hooting and hollering on the mic. I'm doing commentary. I'm giving you time out and everything that comes with basketball. And then you have the jokes mixed in between. Nothing is scripted. "

Rawls and the league are a must-see event during the summer. The outdoor facility seats about 1,500 people and that doesn't include people standing on the baseline with their lawn chairs.

If you want to get respect on the court in the league, you got to bring your game no matter if you are KD, Bradley Beal, or other star players.

"When the pros come in, they were just regular Joes," Rawls comments. They have to earn it. They will tell you. Referees and other players weren't tripping off the names. They were getting the business.

Dele Ojo, who is current face of the Goodman League, says there is no atmosphere like the one in Barry Farms.

"It actually feels like a pro, NBA-type feel. It's also rugged. It's hardcore. Nobody gets cut cards," Ojo says.

"If you can play inside these gates, you can play on the moon if you want to," one of the league's coaches says with a big smile on his face.

The league's uniqueness comes from being much bigger than basketball.

"It's like a combination of a comedy show, basketball, cookout, and church all rolled into one," Rawls says.

The smell of barbecue chicken and soul wings permeate in the air from different vendors. Gourmet salads are also sold along with your usual candy and chip businesses.

Folks play cards with their buddies on the ledges by the gates to the entrance. Kids run around playing ball on the smaller court, and the music during breaks of the game allows the fans to get down and dance.

The best part about the league? In one of D.C.'s roughest neighborhoods, crime vanishes from the scene for these four hours in the evening.

"Ima keep it real with you. If it wasn't for this league, a majority of these jokers would be locked up," Rawls remarks. "My motto is peace, love, and basketball."

Ojo echoes that statement.

"When people step inside the gates, the drama goes away," he says. "All the fighting stops."

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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