Thunder forward Kevin Durant, playing for the Goodman League, drives against… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)
When Kevin Durant strolled into the Pyramid, a hoodie covering his head, his eyes glued to the floor, the fans here for the Drew League-Goodman League exhibition affair began to stir.
Durant was on the campus of Long Beach State representing the Washington-based Goodman League along with such players as John Wall (Washington Wizards) and Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) to face South Los Angeles-based Drew League players such as James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks), Trevor Ariza (New Orleans Hornets) and Matt Barnes.
They have been locked out by the NBA for 101 days and have been staging these games all over the country, this one Sunday in front of a packed house.
"I love to play the game and they are taking that away from us," Durant said about the NBA owners. "But we're going to stick together as players. We're not just going to take any deal."
The Drew League players wore T-shirts that read, "The Big Payback," referring to having lost, 135-134, in August to the Goodman League, which wore T-shirts that read, "Basketball Never Stops."
Barnes said he talked to Lakers teammate and union President Derek Fisher on Sunday and was aware of the eleventh-hour meeting taking place in New York to avoid cancellation of NBA regular-season games. There will be more meetings Monday.
"The situation we're in, we're not about to lock ourselves into something that takes precedence over the younger guys — the guys in high school, in college and the rookies," said Barnes, who took the game seriously enough to be assessed a technical foul, as did Wall. "So we've got to leave them in good hands, just like the older players left us."
Derrick Williams is one of those rookies, being drafted No. 2 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"It's pretty hard because you want to play," Williams said.
By the way, the Drew League got the payback, winning 151-144, behind Harden's 48 points.
Durant, an All-Star with the Thunder, finished with 50 and Wall had 55.
"I like playing in these games because it shows the fans how much we appreciate them and that we want to play games," said Durant, who played in an exhibition game Saturday night in Miami. "But we want to play and not be locked out."