New Drew League Deal With Adidas

A year before the 50th anniversary season, one of the hottest summer pro-am basketball associations, the Los Angeles Drew League, renewed its main brand mate. Starting with this summer’s series of matches, the Drew League will leave its old friend Nike for a new multi-year partnership with Adidas.

Along with using the Drew League, Adidas has also established a multi-year partnership using the Rucker Park Streetball League in the New York City & Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League. Nike began formally partnering with the union in 2013, following a surge in attendance that coincided with the NBA lockdown during the 2011 summer.

That season, players such as Baron Davis, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James participated in a summer game at the South LA park, allowing fans to see some of the world’s greatest players up close, for free.

Since then, NBA players have regularly played summer weekend games, competing against Division I college players, overseas professionals, rising high school stars, and local players.

“We’ve been in the comfort zone of using Nike for the last few years, and all is well,” said Dino Smiley, longtime supervisor of LA County Parks and Recreation, who has served as commissioner of the Drew League since 1985 and CEO of the Drew League Foundation since its creation in 1999. 2009.

Together with his wife Stephanie, daughter Channel, & other community leaders, the Smileys have operated the Drew League for more than 30 years, hosting games for the last decade at King/Drew Magnet High School in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“We’ve been in the community for most of our lives,” says Smiley. “We noticed that using Adidas, they are supporting some events in the city, & we are very interested in using that.”

During NBA All-Star Weekend 2020 in Chicago, Adidas Basketball launched an event dubbed “Legacy” in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. The initiative extends brand sponsorship to 10 high schools in each city, selected not according to their basketball team rankings, but according to need.

Support for the men’s and women’s basketball teams at 30 high schools reaches over 800 players and includes resources both on and off the court. The Legacy 2020 event basketball team is made up of 98% of students of color.

Dino Smiley has served as commissioner of the Drew League since 1985. He says the new Adidas partnership allows them more creative freedom. “They have a very creative team and they involve us in everything they want to do,” he said.

King/Drew Magnet High School — the union’s home venue for games since expanding into a nearby high school in 2013 to meet the growing demand for fan attendance — is one of the 10 LA-area high schools included in the Adidas Legacy event.

Drew League

“When Adidas came in, we said, ‘Wow. They equip kids, they support kids events & do amazing things for the community,’” Smiley said.

The Drew League’s annual sponsorship includes providing official home & travel kits for each of the nearly 2 dozen teams and commercial retail opportunities around Drew League branded footwear & apparel. Adidas & Drew League also mapped out a series of community camps, workshops & activations.

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For the first season of the partnership, each team in the union will wear a striped t-shirt in a cage & tour look, sporting a 3 striped collar pipe & an Adidas branded neckline design. The official coat of arms of the Drew League highlights the union’s 1973 starting point.

In addition to the new uniform designs for this season, both parties are working on a special edition uniform for the upcoming 50th anniversary season. The Drew League is also required to release several Adidas-branded sneakers this year and in the future, possibly including the Harden hand-signed series and namesake examples from current and past Adidas supporters.

Over the years, several Adidas athletes have emerged to play in Drew League games, perhaps not more consistently than Harden. Then Nike stalwart Harden played in one of the biggest games in Drew League history, dropping 47 points in a showdown match to cap the 2011 season featuring DeMar DeRozan and Bryant. 

In the match, Bryant faced off with Harden and then scored the winner on the buzzer from the right elbow, ending an instant 45-point classic that was one of the highlights of the lockout.

Other Adidas athletes such as Evan Mobley & Onyeka Okongwu have also played in Drew League matches. “A lot of people think these people have known, grown-up watching & also playing with the guild,” Holland said. “This is organic harmony. It’s not something we would encourage in friends. This is where they have played.”

After Adidas signed Harden, an LA native, to a 13-year endorsement contract in 2015, it didn’t take long for the Houston Rockets star to brainstorm ways in which he and his new brand pals could connect using the Drew League.

“He will always look for me, hug me & we will talk,” said Smiley. He remembers a night in 2017 when the Rockets were on the road playing the Golden State Warriors on national TV. “Around 11 pm, I received a call and I didn’t recognize the number.” “This is James,” said the caller.

“James who?” asked Smiley, before connecting the dots. “James! You just finished playing 45 min ago – what are you doing calling me?” Harden called using a specific mission.

“What do you expect Adidas to do as a sponsor of the Drew League? We had to go home Adidas,” Smiley Harden recalled telling him. It took the brand & union 5 years to merge, although Harden would be involved in another classic moment of the union’s hot season. 

“Everything that happened to King-Drew, and the people who were there, was at the box office,” said Smiley according to Harden & Paul’s interaction. “We were the first to see for example what they looked like on the backcourt together.”

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