For the past week, Georgetown freshman Mac McClung has been generating viral clips and tearing up the Nike Pro-City “Jabbo” Kenner League with 30-point performances and highlights galore: shifty handles, no-look passes and reverse alley-oop dunks. Thanks to the media and every person in attendance being equipped with a video camera, the 2018 Ballislife All-American will surely become a Kenner League legend.
A lot of basketball greats and NBA legends have played in the Kenner League since it started in the early 80s — when Patrick Ewing and the D.C. summer league games arrived on the Georgetown campus — but since every person in attendance back then wasn’t equipped with a camera and desire to record everything they see, we don’t have much evidence to back up some great Kenner League stories I’ve heard (Can someone please hook me up with some Sam Cassell and Gilbert Arenas footage?). But, we do have footage from the most memorable weekend in the league’s history.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE ANSWER
On August 3rd of 1994, 19 year old Allen Iverson was released from jail. Word on the street was the 6-0 Georgetown freshman guard was going to make his Kenner League debut the following day. Hundreds of people showed up to the McDonough Gymnasium only to be rejected outside. Inside, Iverson suited up for the Tombs team and scored 40 points (30 in the first half) in a 75-67 quarterfinals victory (not bad considering he hadn’t played organized basketball in over a year).
“That was one of the most exciting atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at McDonough,” Thompson said to the Washington Times. “I’d put the Missouri game with Steve Stipanovich and Patrick [Ewing] at No. 1. But Allen’s Kenner League debut ranks right up there. Maybe our NIT game [Cal State Fullerton] a few years ago would be the other McDonough game on the radar, but it would be a distant third.
Here’s highlights of Iverson scoring 33 points (6 threes) in a 106-90 win against team Nike Air.
FRANCHISE VS TROUBLE
If you were online in the late 90s and early 00s then you probably remember hoop media sites like TheDunk.com (which I created back in 1998) and HoopsTV.com. One of my favorite videos from the HoopsTV era was a montage of Steve Francis scoring “63 points” at the Kenner league. I can’t confirm the 63 but I can tell you he put up 59 in a 2000 championship game, which was three less than the 62 put up by 5-11 Curt “Trouble” Smith.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that Curt has the scoring record,” Thompson said. “You talk to anyone who has been around D.C. basketball, and they know all about Curt. Whether it’s summer league, games on the playground at Berry Farms or whatever, Curt is a D.C. basketball legend.”
Besides being a D.C. basket legend, winning MVP honors and getting the best out of Francis and his team called the Francis Hitmen, Smith’s only other claim to fame is a 1998 MVP award in the USBL.
As for Francis, the troubled, three-time NBA All-Star supposedly wasn’t too impressed by Smith’s resume.
Then there’s legend that Francis once ‘showed’ Smith up (or maybe it wasn’t Smith, internet record cannot confirm the relayed story) by digging out wads of money from his pockets, laying it on the court and/or giving it to fans, saying something to the effect of how he’s so great because of money and finally exiting stage left (and this is after Smith supposedly out-dueled Francis on the court).