LYNWOOD >> Famous NBA players and not-so-famous collegians have all played a part in the development of one of Southern California’s key basketball leagues.
Players from schools such as USC, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton compete in the eight-team Real Run Basketball league Mondays through Thursdays at Lynwood High School. A single-elimination tournament, which begins Monday at 6:30 p.m., will decide the title.
It is the most competitive summer league in California. Lynwood JV coach De’Anthony Langston is the league founder and president. Nearly every night he and his cast, including vice president Eric Cooper, financial director Eileen Cooper, statistician David Rice and announcer Patrick Pratt) are engaging with fans, who can attend for free, and watching the action.
The 6-foot-10 Langston played for coach Ron Palmer at Long Beach State. He had a 12-year overseas career. Langston also was the voice of the blue Monstar in the 1996 basketball movie Space Jam. He started Real Run in 1998 with a small group of players, including Lavar Ball, the father of Lonzo Ball, at Loyola Marymount University. Nike approached Langston in its first year about sponsorign the league.
“(I wasn’t) even thinking about it. ... Just playing,” Langston said. “(We) had a meeting with Nike and they gave (us) these uniforms that said ‘Nike Real Run.’”
Nike’s plan was for the league to run Monday through Thursday, in contrast to the Drew League, which ran Friday through Sunday. The second year, NBA talent started trickling in, including Tracy Murray and Chris Mills. The first NBA All-Star was Paul Pierce.
Real Run continued to add players such as Baron Davis and Penny Hardaway in the 1990s to James Harden, DeMar Derozan, Kevin Love and Javale McGee. Lonzo, LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball and Indiana Pacers rookie TJ Leaf are recent participants.
“Honestly, I feel like I can work on my game here,” Long Beach State forward Javonntie Jackson said. “Normally, this past year I didn’t dribble or take it to the rim like that. ... I feel like if I can use it here, I can use it in games next year.”
Guards Kihei Clark of UC Davis and Christian Juzang of Harvard are also some of this year’s players.
“The ideal outcome is to have it like it was: Jam-packed, free for the community, everybody having a great time,” Langston said. “Having it be a great competitive league for young guys to play in and when I mean young, I mean young NBA guys, too.”