The world's most famous pro-am basketball league is back — and there will be a new star in attendance this year.
This weekend, the Drew League tipped off for its 50th anniversary season. The annual pro-am basketball tournament has been held in Los Angeles every summer since 1973, with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event has become popular among NBA players looking to stay sharp over the offseason. In recent years, superstars like James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Paul George and LeBron James have all participated.
One NBA star has already committed to taking part in 2023. Kyrie Irving, currently of the Dallas Mavericks (but maybe not for long), says he'll be taking part for the first time in his career.
Is Kyrie Irving playing in the Drew League?
Irving has gone on record saying he will compete in the Drew League this summer.
In a video posted on Twitter, Irving can be heard telling one of the event organizers that he is planning to participate in 2023.
"I will be playing this year," he said. "It's about time Uncle Drew came to the Drew."
He will reportedly suit up for the Nationwide Souljas in the Alvin Wills Division, per Law Murray of The Athletic. He is expected to make his league debut in July.
Irving was in the building over the weekend for the opening games of the season, which began on June 10 and will run for roughly 13 weeks.
The eight-time All-Star was also expected to compete last year alongside his friend and former teammate, LeBron James. However, he never showed up despite the fact James did arrive as planned.
"They were pretty sure he was coming," league commissioner Dino Smiley told reporters. "But you know how Kyrie is. I guess he changed his mind in the middle of it."
Irving's flashy handles and electric style of play should lend itself perfectly to the event, which features a number of professionals competing alongside some of the top amateur players from around the world. The games will take place at King/Drew Magnet High School in Compton, Los Angeles, Cal.
What is the Drew League?
The Drew League was founded in 1973 as a place for members of the South Central LA community to get together and bond over their shared love of basketball. Over time, it has slowly grown into something much bigger, with some of the best hoopers on the planet turning out.
“That gym had wooden backboards, no padding on the walls and no breakaway rims,” Smiley, the current commissioner and one of the founders of the league, told the Los Angeles Daily News. “Before there were [NBA] players, we used to have people line the walls of this small little gym just to see some of the neighborhood guys play.”
The 2023 edition of the league consists of 22 teams split up into two divisions. Games will run throughout the summer, beginning on June 10 and wrapping up in early September.