by: Vernon Riley
With the current state of the NBA’s upcoming season in question, many players are looking at alternatives to play the game they love. Some are signing contracts to go overseas, some are getting together and playing in charity games and some are touring the country playing at famed courts like Rucker Park in Harlem and Barry Farms in DC. While players are making noise all over, none are bigger than players at Los Angeles’ famous Drew League. Just a little description of the Drew for those that don’t know: “Alvin Willis established the Drew League in 1973 with 6 teams. Willis believed this league could be a place for young men and women of South Central Los Angeles to learn life lessons through basketball.” (drewleague.com) The Drew League not only gave star basketball players a venue to stay fresh, but also jumped started the careers for a lot of SlamBall players.
One player that rose to fame in the Drew is Chris “Ghetto Bird” Young. Chris is the smooth, high flying gunner for the Bouncers who is known as a legend in The Drew League. We recently talked with Chris to get to know a little about the man they call “Ghetto Bird” and get his take on whether the next wave of SlamBall players will come from The Drew League.
Q: Chris first of all thanks for sitting down with us, letting us inside the man they call the “Ghetto Bird.”
A: No problem, it’s my pleasure and thanks for having me.
Q: For those who don’t know, what is your sports background?
A: Basketball is my passion, but I also have a track and field background.“Drew prepared me for SlamBall because it’s physical at the Drew… Just like in SlamBall if you don’t come correct you won’t be successful.”
Q: The Drew League is a big deal in Cali. How did you get started there? How did it prepare you for SlamBall’s big stage?
A: The summer before I started playing for LA Southwest Community College my assistant coach had a team and he asked me to play with him. That was 1996. Drew prepared me for SlamBall because it’s physical at the Drew. You can’t go to the hole or play weak defense and think you won’t get exposed. Just like in SlamBall if you don’t come correct you won’t be successful.
Q: What made SlamBall something you had to do?
A: I actually wasn’t going to go and tryout for SlamBall because I didn’t know a lot about it, but Dino Smiley (commissioner of the Drew league) and Rod Smith (commissioner of the Say No Classic, another summer league) told me I should try it out. Also after I thought about it, I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to be a part of something new and groundbreaking.
Q: You’re a legend in the Drew League. Do you consider yourself a SlamBall legend yet? Do you think you’re one of the top gunners?
A: Of course I’m a legend in SlamBall, no matter what happens with SlamBall and what direction it goes. I have done some pretty amazing things out there on the court. I wouldn’t say I’m the top gunner, but I’m top 5 easily.
Q: What other SlamBall players have and still play in the Drew?
A: Let me say if I leave anyone off its not personal, I’m just getting old…
James Lee, Tarron Williams, Jelani Janisse, Stan Fletcher, Eian Daniels, Whitney White, Ivan Latimore, Tommie Davis, JD Green, Gerri Herring, Dion Bailey, Dion Mays. However Tarron, Jelani and myself are the only 3 still playing in the Drew.“I get a SlamBall question every weekend at the Drew with guys wanting to play.”
Q: There’s talk that the next wave of SlamBall players will come from the Drew. What are your thoughts on that?
A: Yes they will, there is so much talent at the Drew League and all of that can’t and won’t go overseas to play basketball. I get a SlamBall question every weekend at the Drew with guys wanting to play.
Q: The Drew League as well as other basketball leagues around the country boasts some great players. Many of them feel that the transition from their league to SlamBall would be a piece of cake since they are stars on the court. How do you feel about that?
A: Guys who feel that way only last a few hours, if that. I’ve come across more guys who are scared and really don’t know what to expect. So they tend to ask me questions with a humble tone in their voice. The quickest way to get hurt or put on your ass is to not respect the court (tramps), players and the sport! If you come in thinking it will be easy and that you’re doing SlamBall a favor by playing, you will have a rude awakening.
Q: The Bouncers had a bad year in SlamBall. How do you bounce back?
A: We only had a bad year because on injuries. We had the best team by far, but if you can’t stay healthy then nothing else matters.
Q: You’ve played with NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Demar De Rozen, and others. Who in SlamBall would you like to team up with?
A: Yeah, this summer has been crazy to play against and along side some of the brightest young stars in the NBA. Not to mention I was an assistant coach for the Drew league all star game and got to coach Kobe Bryant. Not that there is much coaching to be done when you have Kobe Bryant on your team. If I could team up with any player it would be Lamonica Garrett not just because he one of my closet friends, actually our friendship started with the first day of SlamBall tryouts in 2001. Lamonica and I on the wings on a SlamBall court would be unstoppable.
Q: Everyone has seen the video of you and Michael Jordan one-on-one, what was your favorite Chris Young highlight?
A: My favorite SlamBall moment has to be the hit on Corey Beezhold, even though it was called a foul during the game. It was totally a legal hit and it looks way worse than it was. But it makes for a sick highlight.
Q: So what’s next for Chris Young in SlamBall/Drew League?
A: I’m just doing my best to stay in shape and hold off father time a few more years. But I know at the end of the day I will be coaching in both SlamBall and the Drew League. I’m also behind the scenes helping the Drew league get all the publicity that the league deserves. I helped out with the Drew vs. Goodman game “Capital Punishment” by being the middle-man for the Drew league in contacting the Goodman league and Kevin Durant. Even though we lost it was a wonderful event and I’m proud to say I played a big role in helping the game and event happen.
Q: What advise do you have for players that want to play SlamBall?
A: Just come in shape, with an open mind because it’s not basketball you will be playing. Work hard and have fun.
Q: Chris thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We hope to see you on the SlamBall court soon.
A: Thanks and it was my pleasure and I can’t wait for season four to start. I know without a doubt it will be the best season and there will be no stopping SlamBall this time around.
Chris is definitely a legend on the SlamBall court and we look forward to seeing him and the Bouncers come back strong this SlamBall season.
Connect to More Great SlamBall Stuff:
Noah Ballou is crafty in the tramps, with ability to find the open spots, he rises up for a slam while falling away from the hoop. On the other end, Scott Campbell tries to lay the ball up over Kevin Cassidy, only to see it swatted away out of the...
After a few jump shots and a floater this highlight might leave you wanting something more… powerful. Chris Young has you covered. Off a miss, the Bouncers get Ghetto Bird the ball and let him finish the job. Taking a huge leap, Ghetto Bird soars to the cup and smashes...
In this face-off, Chris “Ghetto Bird” Young goes up against David Jackson. Jackson times his bounces right and blocks the Ghetto Bird from scoring. Not only did Jackson block the Ghetto Bird, but Jackson also had a broken jaw. Would you be able to slam into another person midair, block...
The Slashers have been very successful as an organization because of great teamwork and plays like this one where great defense leads to points. On the defensive end is Adam Hooker doing what he does best, taking away would-be buckets from the opponents. Hooker manages to stop a sure dunk...