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L.A. finishes first in that other basketball league

Julius English, right, greets Team L.A. teammate Shane Chase before the start of the first basketball game of a three-game series with Team NYC.

Los Angeles basketball fans can now lift their heads, wipe their eyes and cheer for something: Team L.A. has bested Team NYC in a three-game series.

The contest was the inaugural match of The People’s Games, a new venture developed for talented amateur athletes in the nation’s major cities.

Hundreds of hopefuls tried out for the prototype match in L.A. and New York; the only requirement was that participants were at least 18 and had no professional experience.

Team L.A. was coached by former UCLA and Lakers’ star Lucius Allen; Team NYC was coached by NBA legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. Before the series began, mayors of both cities sent light jabs to each other over Twitter, but the play on the court was a bit more ferocious.

Team L.A. took Game 1 during a tough Sunday match at Venice Beach. Then it pulled out a 58–55 Game 2 victory in New York on Tuesday.

Some of the cities' best amateur athletes were on the teams, including players who were college and high school standouts or had played in semi-pro leagues.

Team members all play basketball regularly and are fierce competitors. Among them are teachers, attorneys, baristas and Wall Street traders.

Film producer Armyan Bernstein, who says he spent millions funding the venture, hopes to expand the games to at least 14 other cities and wants to include other sports such as football and baseball. He also hopes to use the games as a base for a reality television show and wants to earn sponsorships and sell merchandise.

RELATED:

New league gives basketball amateurs a shot at glory

-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Julius English, right, greets Team L.A. teammate Shane Chase before the start of the first basketball game of a three-game series with Team NYC, part of the the People's Games project, on a Venice basketball court May 8. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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