NBA superstar Kevin Durant plays Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware

Two months ago, the guys from Philadelphia exchanged friendly chats with Kevin Durant’s older brother as they began discussing a summer basketball game between several of the city’s top pros and the best in Washington, D.C. .

But Ramone Moore and Novar Gadson – two Public League stars who played Division I hoops before playing professionally overseas – still didn’t expect KD to participate just because they were talking to Tony Durant. . NBA superstars typically don’t participate in pop-up games during the offseason.

But the guys from Philadelphia said the event – the Brotherly Love Showcase Game – is more than just a basketball game.

“Once Kevin Durant saw what we were doing outside of basketball, he locked himself in with us,” said Gadson, who played at Bartram High and Rider. “It was one of the best things that could happen to the game and one of the best things that could happen to Philadelphia.”

Durant, a 12-time NBA All Star, is scheduled to play Saturday at 7 p.m. at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington for Team DMV against Team Brotherly Love. The game will feature the top 10 pros Moore and Gadson could put together against the best Coach Tony Durant could find in the Washington area.

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The game grew out of the pro-am league that Moore, Gadson, former Roman Catholic star Mike Ringgold and partner Brett Olson run for the second straight summer at the Kroc Community Center in Camden. The goal of the Brotherly Love Pro-Am, Moore said, can have a positive influence on kids growing up in the same neighborhoods where the Founders come from.

They use the league to employ people – such as DJs and coaches – in the summer, hold food drives at homeless shelters in the spring, and give overseas players the chance to play back home for their families. and their friends. And it’s what they said that made Durant want to come to Delaware this weekend.

“I can’t wait, to be honest with you,” Moore said. “It’s not too often that we can get a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber to come to town outside of an NBA game. For him to take time out of his busy schedule, I think that’s pretty awesome. We want to show kids that there’s still hope. If you stay out of trouble and do the right things, at some point you can be someone like him.

Moore and Gadson started talking two years ago about starting a pro-am league in Philadelphia. They were teammates in July 2020 at the Basketball Tournament (an annual summer basketball showcase) and wondered why their city didn’t have a summer league. Philly has tournaments — like the Danny Rumph Classic in August — but not a league for returning pros, many of whom come from overseas, every offseason.

“We wanted to give guys who play professional basketball something to do besides just practice,” Gadson said. “You can train all day, but if you don’t put those reps into a set format, it means absolutely nothing.”

The league has partnered with a production company so players can receive highlight reels to send to their agents, as Moore and Gadson – who have been pros in places like Japan, Romania and Australia – know how difficult it can be to find a team abroad. . The league also hired security guards to ensure the gymnasium could be a safe place for fans, employed teenagers to man the concession stand and sold tickets, and tried every night to give back to the community. an escape she wished had grown up.

“We’ve been kids in the neighborhood,” said Moore, 33, who was the public league MVP at Southern before playing in three NCAA tournaments at Temple. “We know how difficult it is in the city. I think it’s harder for kids growing up now. There is so much more violence. They have social media and lots of distractions. We try to highlight different things and opportunities for them.

“If we can get people out and have fun with basketball for three or four hours, I feel like we’ve done our job. There’s so much going on in our city and we just want to create a space sure. That’s our vision.

Moore and Gadson are still finishing their roster, but they have commitments from Dion Waiters, the South Philly native who played eight seasons in the NBA, and former Roman Catholic star Brad Wanamaker, who last season played for the Pacers and Wizards. They will be joined by Lonnie Walker from Reading, who signed with the Lakers this month after spending four years with Spurs, and Alize Johnson from Williamsport, who last season played for the Bulls, Wizards and Pelicans.

Durant’s team can draw from DC, Maryland and Virginia, so the Philadelphia team goes beyond the city limits, even bringing in Hornets center Montrezl Harrell (Tarboro, NC) and another surprise out of town, Gadson said. The Philadelphia team won’t have a two-time NBA champion on the league’s 75th anniversary team, but Moore and Gadson said they like their chances.

“We move with our guys,” said Gadson, 32. “I just feel like we have this tenacity that a lot of cities don’t have. Yeah, they have Kevin Durant. But one thing we’re proud of as a city is that we don’t back down. anyone who enters the basketball court.

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