Commissioner Miles Rawls’ 20th season was a memorable one, for both good and bad reasons. What will be most memorable, what everyone will talk about 20 years from now, is the way Lincoln Park came back from down 23-points to beat the Drew All-Stars 44-45, for a 2-0 finals sweep to take home the Goodman League Championship for the second time in their history.
Game two of the championship finals was delayed a couple days after Commissioner Miles became ill during the first 5 minutes of game two on Thursday. He was later diagnosed with Vertigo — a medical condition which causes dizziness and a sensation of spinning with certain head movements., making it difficult to walk — which forced the games to be rescheduled until Sunday. When Miles walked Inside the Gates with the assistance of Goodman’s official cameraman, Wings, the BF Coliseum greeted him with a round of applause.
Bruce Massey was named Finals MVP for his second half performance, leading Lincoln Park on a 27-4 run in the final 14 minutes of the second half. The most pivotal point in the game was when both teams had to be separated, similar to when they played in the first time in the regular season. While Lincoln Park argued that the refs needed to clean the game up, everyone else felt that they were frustrated being down by 20+. After that minor scuffle, that’s when Massey took over.
“All the respect on the court and off court for each other, but both teams want to win,” Massey said about the chippiness. “We’re not going to give each other no cut cards. If somebody is being soft, we each feel that we can bully them and take advantage of it. Marl is their bully, Shaq [Hugh Jones] is our bully, and neither are going to let the other team take advantage of their [teammates].”
Massey scored 16 points in the second half – finishing with 17 points, going 7-10 at the free throw line, which has been an Achilles heel for a lot of teams during the postseason. Massey admitted that he was frustrated and lashed out at teammate Dele Ojo during a timeout, but realized that the team only goes as far as Ojo takes them. Ojo scored 10 points for the game but his biggest contribution was his defensive work against fellow Goodman 20 representer, Tre Kelly (South Carolina).
Seeing Tre Kelly was a surprise for a lot of fans inside the gates, especially for Commissioner Miles because Kelly had made it clear that he does not play outside anymore. But going into his 10th season as international player, Kelly felt that it was time for him to return back to the Goodman to give the fans a show – the same fans that watched him since he was a 9th grader at Dunbar High School in DC.
During LP’s run, Ojo’s job was to deny Tre the ball. In the first half Tre hit three straight trey balls and led the Drew All-Stars to 31-11 first half lead. Kelly was a “wild-card” for the Drew All-Stars who were missing a key player. In the second half Kelly was held to only five points, and only two points during LP’s run. Many thought Ojo should have won the MVP because of his efforts denying Kelly the ball, but even he admitted that Massey deserved the honors.
“They’re a scrappy team and desperation made them more scrappy.” Kelly said about Lincoln Park.
LP clinched the title with a clean sweep. In Game 1, Hugh Jones aka Baby Shaq led all scorers with 25 points, leading the LP to a 60-55 double-overtime victory. Both games in this championship finals series were probably the best games of the summer. The rivalry between Lincoln Park and Drew All-Stars will be even more heated from here on out.
Overall the 20th season was a success. It showed that Commissioner Miles is one of the most resilient individuals you’ll ever meet. From the nearby neighborhood shooting that caused a stampede on the court early in the season, to the rainy days, to the death of his older brother just as the playoffs started, to having a health scare just five minutes into Game 2 of the Goodman Finals, Commissioner Miles – along with the players and fans – never let that stop the Goodman League from rolling along. After each tragic event, the community became closer and the games got better. See you next summer for the 21st season, MOVE EM!
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Author Kendall Hilton, founder of Fan-I Sports Group and Fan-I.com, has covered the Goodman League for multiple seasons.