A Self-Made Basketball League During COVID-19

How my friends and I created our own basketball league during COVID-19.


Featuring players from left to right: Taj Riebel, Aidan Morrison, Leroy Yau, Maksim Zarkovich, Kuca Paz, and Max Kim (me)

Max Kim, Contributer

I am sure I can speak for a lot of people who have had dreams of being called up to the NBA draft stage, hearing their name taken in the draft, with championship aspirations and the fulfilled dreams of having their own name in a stat-chart on the internet. What if I told you I could make that dream come true? Well, sort of.

During the boredom of COVID-19 that has plagued teenagers for over a year now, I decided to make my own basketball league with a few of my childhood and middle school friends. We knew how to play, but we were never good enough to play at school competitions, and we were dying for an AAU or Rec League to take us on.

Being introduced to the program Sportscode and mentored by the company T.E.A.M. Inc, a basketball industry organization, the passion I had felt for basketball as a middle schooler was finally being put to good use in my new league. I have practiced coding NBA games and other footage at the collegiate level and have been taught by great giants in the coding industry. I was even slated to attend and practice my skills at the NBA summer league in Vegas during the summer of 2020, but COVID kept me from doing so. The pandemic rid me of any confidence I had been building from months practicing coding, as the future I had envisioned myself to partake seemed like a far-fetched dream. I needed something to keep my mind sharp for the upcoming opportunities I had hoped for before I left for college.

Most of us, including myself, would wear a mask, but like anything in the pandemic, there was still a risk. However, hours a day of filming and playing basketball gave me the opportunity to code my friends’ and my games, which was a huge relief.

The little basketball bubble started in April 2020 and quickly gained popularity. When I arrived back from Hawaii in the fall after a 3-month basketball hiatus, [layers began being added, we envisioned putting money on “finals” games and enjoyed the feeling of being our dreams coming true. 

Over time, COVID-19 tests or vaccinations became mandatory and masks were wisely ruled essential. 29 players had tried to reach out to me or join in a 2-month offseason we had the last winter, many of whom I barely knew. We ultimately added 2 more of my friends for a grand total of 8 players in our league, which was a magic number for basketball (4v4).

My basketball mind became stronger, as I started over 100 games through the span of a year, and I ultimately landed a basketball coding internship, where I hope I can use my skills I’ve gained during this time. While ultimately a little makeshift basketball bubble made from friends who weren’t good enough to play at a high-school competitive level can be looked down upon, I’d say it was a personal success during the trying year of 2020. I hope the league can continue to run on during my senior year of high school, possibly with more players.