In this special edition of the podcast, we chat with two-time NBA All-Star (and 2004 Skills Competition champion!) Baron Davis about his new documentary The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce. Davis is the executive producer of this film that chronicles the history of the Drew League, the Los Angeles Pro-Am that has become an offseason stomping grounds for many of the NBA's top pros. It premiers on Showtime at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 29.
The film tells the story of the league's origins, the behind-the-scenes leaders who ushered its rise and its role as a safe haven and force for social change inside the crime-ridden neighborhood of South Central, Los Angeles. In this podcast, we discuss:
- How an idea that was originally going to be told in a 5-10 minute short evolved into a two-hour feature film that told the story of strong African-American role models.
- How the Drew League and the mentors Davis met around that institution helped him overcome the poverty and crime that surrounded him growing up.
- How the racial unrest in Los Angeles and elsewhere (the Watts Riots of 1965, the Rodney King riots in 1992 and even the Black Lives Matter movement of today) informs the Drew League's central purpose and illustrates why Davis wanted to tell this story.
- How the game of basketball itself can provide a safe haven for rival gangs and other community members to put aside their differences and bond together.
- What it means to be a "Los Angeles guard" and how that's different from a player from another city.
- Why people like Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley and other key pillars of grassroots basketball institutions deserve their own wing in the Basketball Hall of Fame.
We also discuss several of the film's key protagonists, including Kenny Brunner, Davis' rival in high school who went to Georgetown, got into legal trouble that set him back and rehabilitated himself on the AND-1 Mixtape Tour and at the Drew League. Davis compared Brunner to Toronto's Kyle Lowry in terms of style of play.