‘The League’ crowns summer league champion

-Photo by Alphonso Abbott Jr.- Laabwork defeated Lee Gang 93-81 in the championship game of the summer of The League.

‘The League’ crowns summer league champion
August 25
14:11 2021

After a tough and arguably best season of The League, Team Laabwork walked away with the summer league championship and bragging rights. Laabwork defeated Team Lee Gang 93-81 to capture the victory and Walt Baxley was named MVP for his efforts during the game.

“From the jump, Laabwork started off strong with MVP Walt Baxley dropping 10 of their first 12 points,” said Steve Nivens, the league commissioner. “It was a lot of confusion with Lee Gang because their head coaches were not there and the assistant coaches did not know how to adjust, because on paper the matchup was good, and I think more in favor of Lee Gang.  

“Skill-wise and depth, Laabwork was just too strong and powerful for them and they were balanced. They played together and it was too much for Lee Gang to overcome the deficit they were in.”

According to Nivens, Laabwork dominated the game from start to finish. Any time Lee Gang attempted to make a run, someone from Laabwork would “step up” and hit a big shot to end it. Nivens stated that many of the guys from Laabwork work out together, so their chemistry was already in place before the season even started.

“They had a good feel for one another and the camaraderie they had by playing together made it that much more special,” Nivens said about Laabwork. “They never folded, they never argued with each other, they handled what they needed to do, they listened, and they were coachable.”

Nivens says that Baxley was the MVP not only because he was the leading scorer for Laabwork, but more for the intangibles he possessed. Baxley is the type of player who relishes the pressure of the big moment, he uplifts his teammates, and ignores trash talk from opponents.

Jamaal Fowler was the announcer for The League this season and he is also an avid sports fan. Coming into the game, Fowler anticipated Laabwork would win because of their coaching that included Whit and Travis Holcomb-Faye. Fowler says with the talent being almost equal on both sides, it was coaching that made the difference.

“Basically, to me, the team with the better coaching won the game and that was Laabwork,” said Fowler. “What I mean by better coaching, they got guys on the team that coached and played, that have won championships. They know what to do in certain situations, whereas Lee Gang’s coaches were not there.”

Fowler stated that one of the problems for Lee Gang was their constant rotation of players. He stated Lee Gang substituted players every few minutes and that never allowed their scorers to get into a rhythm.  

“They have gotten by, because that’s just part of their game and the players on their team are used to it, but when you play a team like Laabwork, you can’t keep subbing players in and out like that,” he said about the game.

From the start of the season, Fowler thought that Laabwork had a great shot at winning the championship. They only lost one game during the regular season and their talent was comparable to just about every other team in The League.

Fowler says Laabwork had control of the game from the jump ball. They built a double digit lead early and he feels Lee Gang was only able to claw their way back in because Laabwork became “complacent” and went away from their MVP Walt Baxley.

Fowler says that Baxley was always there for Laabwork when they needed a big score the entire season, and during the championship game, he came through for his team yet again. “When the game is on the line and it’s a big game, count on Walt to come up big,” Fowler said.

All in all, Fowler feels this was the best season for The League. With the change in venue, talent on the court, and the bigger crowd, Fowler says all of those factors put this season over the top.

Nivens is not wasting any time bringing things back for the fall. He will start the fall season on Sept. 23 and the games will be played at the newly-renovated W.R. Anderson gymnasium. Nivens stated he is also working on putting together a women’s league as well, due to the number of female ballers that have reached out to him.

For more information about The League, please visit or @theleaguenc on Instagram.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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