The organizers named it the Love League, but despite the name, recreation basketball leagues are anything but lovely sometimes.
“Oh yeah, it can get testy, but at the end of it, the ultimate point is that we all love the game,” said 36-year-old DaShawn Bedford, one of the original organizers of the 5-year-old West Central Community Center basketball league.
A spring, summer, fall and winter league at the community center – 1603 N. Belt Street – ranges from four- to eight-week seasons. Playoffs are held at the conclusion of each season, culminating in a championship game.
What makes the league more compelling than most is that Bedford and longtime friends Seneca Smith, Michael Bethely and Jazz Luton all play a role in broadcasting what’s perhaps the most polished recreational basketball league Spokane has seen. The Love League has 350 likes on Facebook and another 30 subscribers on its YouTube channel.
It’s a production that’s infinitely more advanced than a couple of guys with smartphones jumping up and down excited at the sight of a quick crossover.
Bedford is a videographer for Spokane’s CMTV Channel 14. Bethely is a video producer in the communications department at Washington State University’s health sciences center in Spokane.
Bedford, Smith and Luton use a TriCaster 455, what Bedford calls a “production studio in a box,” to record games with multiple cameras. Bedford and Smith serve as camera operators, Luton logs game stats and Smith later adds music behind narration from Bedford and Bethely.
The TriCaster system, which Bedford has permission to use from his employer, gives them the ability to broadcast live, but doing that would eliminate much of what makes their production so enjoyable: Bedford’s postgame narration with either Smith or Bethely, depending on which has the ability to commit the time on a given week.
“You know when Markeith gets going… pfft … it’s dangerous. They gotta call Smokey the Bear to put out his fire,” Bedford said of Love League regular, Markeith Brown, whose high school career ended playing at Shadle Park High School.
“When I first got this (TriCaster system), basketball was one of the first things that came to my mind,” said Bedford, a Rogers High School grad.
“This league and these videos have given players another outlet to showcase their talent to coaches,” said Bedford, who played for Community Colleges of Spokane after high school.
Within the past year, the team calling itself “Find Out,” the only team with current high school players, has used The Love League’s posted content to try and appeal to area college coaches.
Brown, 18, caught the attention of Everett Community College basketball coach Mike Trautman during the past Greater Spokane League basketball season. Brown said he also used posted content to help fan Trautman’s interest.
Brown didn’t stop there.
“I sent him clips of Mark, and he was so impressed by what he saw on the video that he invited him over for a visit,” Brown said.
Find Out teammate Mark Carter moved to Spokane from Los Angeles to be closer to family after graduating from high school in Southern California. He spent the past year attending classes at Spokane Community College thinking his basketball days were over.
Brown played matchmaker, introducing Carter to Trautman, and Carter promptly signed a letter of intent on a weekend visit to Everett.
“I love that story. It’s another opportunity to help these young guys get a look,” Bedford said. “It’s also another opportunity to help these players get out in front of family and friends.”
Brown is also dangling video of Find Out teammate Phalon Maddox, whose high school playing career just concluded at Mt. Spokane High School.
Past league players have included Angel Nunez, formerly of Gonzaga University; D’Angelo Casto, who played at Washington State University and Ferris High School; and Jacob Wiley at Eastern Washington and Newport High.
“Jacob came in here last year and still had eligibility,” Bedford said. “When his coaches found out, they told him, ‘Nope, no more of that.’ ’’
Bedford said he is searching for local advertisers and sponsors to help grow league’s presence online. He’d like to see the league draw younger players who’ve been overlooked by high school and AAU coaches. He’d also like to former college players from the area who’ve stayed in Spokane to enroll teams.
For now, however, the rest of the league may be eagerly awaiting the departure of Find Out’s current roster as some prepare for college in the fall.
Love League via YouTube
“Uhh – he didn’t get dunked on, he got dunked by …” Bethely said of Jakobe Ford, who caught a fast-break pass speeding down the left lane past an opponent.
ES Elite had won the last four league championships, but Find Out entered the league for the first time last year and refused to respect its elders.
Against “Old School” to start the current spring season, Find Out stretched its 39-32 halftime lead and turned into an 83-53 win.
Being basketball, it got testy along the way. Older men never have been fans of getting beat down by boys. The Love League organizers don’t hesitate to do some mentoring to Find Out in process.
“The older they get, the more they talk,” the 39-year-old Smith told Brown. “You’ve already quieted them. Just let it go.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.