Alex Labidou of the Nets website talked to the team’s two Angelenos, Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe, about growing up in Los Angeles, where they eyed each other first as rising stars on the high school and AAU circuits and what it’s like being teammates for the first time.
Only a year apart in class, the two Nets, now aged 24 and 25, recalled to Labidou their first time watching each other on the court, at L.A.’s Pan Pacific Park Recreation Center.
“The first time we played each other was probably when I was 11 years old at the park,” Dinwiddie recalled to BrooklynNets.com. “He was a little bit older than me. He was one of the best players at the park at the time. Being the younger guy, you want to compete against the best – even if it’s an older guy.”
Crabbe remembers Dinwiddie as someone who stood out.
“That young, basketball wasn’t as serious as it now,” Crabbe said to BrooklynNets.com “So you know we’re just playing in the park. But sometimes, even at a young age, you know some guys just stick out among the competition. You can tell the good guys, the good players, from the kids who are out there just trying to have fun. That’s how you can separate it and Spencer was always [one of the standouts].”
The two never played each other in high school, Dinwiddie at Taft Charter and Frederick K.C. Price III Christian School. Both won city titles and AAU championships and while it’s hard to call them rivals, they knew quite well who the other was. They had great coaches and as Labidou notes, a tragic bond.
Bryce Dejean-Jones knew both players. The 6’6” swingman went to Taft with Dinwiddie —”joined at the hip,” said their high school coach— and played AAU with Crabbe. He wound up with the Pelicans but in May 2016, he was killed in a case of mistaken identity.
As Labidou describes it...
Dejean-Jones, who was just 23 at the time, had gotten into an argument with his girlfriend, also the mother of his child, and left the apartment to take a walk. When he returned to the apartment complex in the middle of the night, he thought his girlfriend had locked him out due to the fight so he broke into the place. He walked into the apartment and noticed it wasn’t the same place, but it was too late. The resident of the apartment suspected there was a burglary going on and fired at him.
The move devastated both players.
Dinwiddie and Crabbe share other things like just a bit of resentment that UCLA, the hometown school, wasn’t that interested in either. Dinwiddie wound up at Colorado, Crabbe at Cal Berkeley.
Now, of course, they share a locker room. Crabbe remembers when he got the call he had been traded to Brooklyn, he immediately checked their roster.
“I was like ‘Oh Spencer’s still here.’ I felt bit more comfortable,” Crabbe said. “Just knowing someone, having a familiar face, going into a new situation, into a new setting. You know, it made the transition a little easier and it has.”
- HOW LOS ANGELES SHAPED BROOKLYN NETS’ SPENCER DINWIDDIE AND ALLEN CRABBE - Alex Labidou - Brooklyn Nets