“That was one of the most exciting atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at McDonough,” Thompson said. “I’d put the Missouri game [in 1982] with Steve Stipanovich and Patrick [Ewing] at No. 1. But Allen’s Kenner League debut ranks right up there. Maybe our NIT game [Cal State Fullerton] a few years ago would be the other McDonough game on the radar, but it would be a distant third.
“I drove down from Jersey to see that one, and I remember telling Pops afterward, ‘OK, your fella can go.’ Allen put on a show that night.”
But Kenner League veterans will tell you Iverson’s debut and his subsequent scoring duel with George Mason’s Nate Langley (the two combined to score 77 points in a 1994 semifinal) can’t touch the head-to-head opus authored by Francis and D.C. street king Curt “Trouble” Smith in the 2000 title game.
In that game, both Smith and Francis both broke the Kenner League scoring record. In the end, Smith’s team won 121-120 victory, but Trouble’s 62 points trumped Francis’ 59.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all that Curt has the scoring record,” Thompson said. “You talk to anyone who has been around D.C. basketball, and they know all about Curt. Whether it’s summer league, games on the playground at Berry Farms or whatever, Curt is a D.C. basketball legend.”
That’s the beauty of the Kenner League. For every three college players on its rosters, there’s a fourth wild card player - a retired player (Byron Mouton is a regular), an NBA guest appearance (Arenas has shown up for the playoffs) or a street-cred stud like Smith.
“Running with these young guys keeps me sharp,” said seven-year NBA veteran DerMarr Johnson, a Kenner League regular. “Plus, I like the fact that you never know who’s going to walk on the court or what’s going to happen next.”