Angels — LeBron James He scored 42 points when he successfully returned to the Dre League DeMar DeRozan for a 104-102 victory in the LA Pro-Am Basketball League on Saturday.

Longtime Drew League commissioner Dino Smiley told ESPN they expected it. Brooklyn Nets Guard Kyrie Irving But that didn’t happen in the game before James and DeRozan.

“We’ve got two games left today and six tomorrow so we’ll see,” he said with a smile on Saturday afternoon.

“I felt like it was going to be a sure bet, but I don’t know what happened,” Samille Irving said of Saturday’s game.

While Drew League’s Saturday slate is being played near Compton, California, 55 miles away in Thousand Oaks, the participant on Los Angeles Lakers Assistant coach Phil Handy posted a video on her Instagram account showing Irving working with the campers at the girls’ basketball skills camp.

He coached Handy Irving for five seasons; Both were part of the competition. Cleveland Cavaliers Organization.

The Drew League game Saturday was the first public appearance of the 37-year-old James playing basketball in more than three months. He missed seven of the Lakers’ final eight regular-season games with a sprained left ankle and missed 26 games in all of 2021-22, marking one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” James told ESPN.

He finished with 42 points on 18-for-36 shooting (2-for-13 from 3), 16 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists. DeRozan, a Drew League staple who invited James to play on his and Southern California native Casper Ware’s team, scored 30 points on 9-for-23 shooting with 14 rebounds.

James and DeRozan’s team, the so-called MMV Rogues, trailed the Black Pearl Elite by seven points in the fourth quarter before coming back to beat them.

DeRozan’s feed to James for a two-handed, rim-bending dunk with 1:22 left put MMV up by six and it seemed. But BPE followed with a layup created by a 3-pointer and a steal, and James suddenly faced the danger of losing his first game in the Drew League in more than a decade.

Moments later, MMV drove the ball to James with 4.5 seconds remaining, leading the team to a penalty shootout with a score of 103-102.

He did the first one. And then things got interesting.

“I went to LeBron at the end and said, ‘Hey, I want one [miss]BPE’s Mike Nwabuzor, who plays professionally overseas, continued, and he smoked the free throw. So that was probably the best time. But the whole game was fun. Great competition. It’s great to share the court with him.”

James missed his second free throw, but BPE’s Ethan Alvano made a potential game-winning 3 on a short layup and James raised his hand in victory.

“I really thought we could have pulled it off,” said Alvano, who recently signed a two-year contract to play in South Korea. But man, this is a lifelong dream to play with LeBron James. The person I grew up watching, the idol I grew up with. So it was an honor, he was a great blessing to share the court with him.

The James Drew League, which was founded in 1973 and saw NBA players walk out into the gymnasium at Charles Drew Jr. High School, is the first appearance in decades — since the 2011 NBA lockout.

“It was surprising when it first happened because Baron [Davis] He brought him to play, and I think he just came to show off, and then he got really excited to see the crowd and the game, and then he wanted a jersey.

Davis was among a group of former and current NBA players on hand to watch Saturday. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors; Montreal Harrell of the Charlotte Hornets; And Kendrick Nunn And Talen Horton-Tucker The Lakers.

Irving’s absence has erased much of the intrigue surrounding James and his former teammate.

Irving recently picked up his $36.5 million player option with the Brooklyn Nets for the 2022-23 season, and James is in the final year of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, though he will be eligible to sign an extension with LA starting next month. .

Los Angeles has engaged Brooklyn in trade talks in recent weeks to find a deal that would send Irving. Russell Westbrook Nets sources told ESPN. So far, the talks have not reached an agreement.

Instead, the focus was on the court, with James — four years into his Lakers tenure — establishing himself on the LA basketball scene.

“For him to be here in the middle of the ‘hood where people look up to him every day, for him to come here and bless these people with his presence, I think he’s pretty dope,” Alvano said. I’m glad he did it and it’s good for the community.

Added Smiley: “It was an amazing afternoon of basketball.”

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