Jorge Preciado is more than the voice of Drew League games

This will not be a cakewalk for Trae Young.

Of course, the hundreds of people who came to watch the Atlanta Hawks All-Star Guard decorate Drew League Saturday’s game oohed and aahed after every silk jumper or dual-clutch downtime. However, “Ice Trae”, as he is unofficially known, did not dominate as his Black Pearl Elite team lost 103-100. And barbs based on nicknames rumbled throughout the gym from the announcer’s microphone. Jorge Preciado.

“I want to see the needle, Trey! I feel like it’s the Mojave Desert.”

Hawks defenseman Trae Young warms up with Black Pearl Elite teammates ahead of a Drew League game on Saturday.

Hawks defenseman Trae Young warms up with Black Pearl Elite teammates ahead of a Drew League game on Saturday.

(Luca Evans/Los Angeles Times)

It soon became apparent that Young’s most vocal opponent was not a member of the opposing Citi Team Blazers, but a about 5-foot-tall man often referred to as George, wearing a camo cap back to front, patrolling the touchlines.

“Young got a bit of a job from Jorge,” the longtime Drew League player said. DJ Jason Beresford.

Everyone gets a job. LeBron James even gets a job. When the Lakers mogul drove up to King/Drew High on July 16, Preciado gave him a hard time for missing a couple of key free throws.

“Smoke!”

“You can’t just come in here and think you’re a regular player… your pride is on the line,” Beresford said. “And Jorge will let you know about it.

No excuses – just produce. The Preciado, with its booming ‘yes-yes-yes’ rhythm and unfiltered announcements, has embodied the Drew League’s motto since the start of summer Saturdays. He is not just a man who has held a microphone for public speaking for 25 years.

“He’s the voice,” staffer Timothy Giles said. “He’s Drew’s heart.”

Before he started sleeping with his microphone in a wobbly black office chair next to the secretary’s desk, before he was given the nickname “Chick Hearn-andez” and called himself “The Diplomat”, Preciado was just a dude trying to get a job in supermarket.

He was then told by League director Drew Dino Smiley that he should announce it, even though it hadn’t happened before.

“I thought, ‘No way, Dino,'” Preciado said. “I was so afraid to go up to the microphone.”

Of course, Smiley knew Preciado well. The local guy was a self-proclaimed Drew League fanatic. At age 12, Preciado appeared in the league’s early stages when it was held at Drew High School.

Referee Christopher “Petey” Wrenn, a member of the team that won the first Drew League championship in 1973, had to constantly urge the young Preciado to get out of the way or the players would bulldoze him. A joke went between them: “Jorge, get off the court!”

Preciado still hasn’t conceded. Even after his first game, when he announced player Maurice Spillers as “Tyrone Spillers”.

“I also said it confidently,” Preciado said. “Like, ‘Bow’!”

Preciado says everything confidently. And without context. In one second, he loudly draws the attention of the crowd to the pink and blue sneakers of NBA forward Darius Basley. He then informs the audience that it is “handcuff season”. He then sings the lyrics from Tha Dogg Pound’s “New York, New York” lane to Beresford to blast the song over the loudspeakers.

It’s auditory chaos. Preciado’s voice fills the gymnasium and spills through the double doors into the school halls. It adds an unmistakable noise to games that would otherwise be the sound of pops and the creak of sneakers.

“You can tell when Jorge can move away to use the phone or go to the bathroom when he’s not here,” Beresford said. “You can say something else.”

The Drew League has a culture. It’s massive, speaking to South Los Angeles, said Michael McKaa, the league’s chief financial officer. It’s a bit of basketball, viral dunks and flashy crossovers. These are samples of music, basses and stars like James bouncing to the beat. It’s a small number of styles or celebrities like Lil Wayne and Quavo lounging in backyard seats.

Everything is tuned to Preciado intonation.

“Jorge is the centerpiece of this culture,” McKaa said.

Three months ago, the Drew League staff again came to the King/Drew Supreme Court. There were no stickers on the floor, no Drew League banners on the walls. After COVID-19 knocked out King/Drew for two summers, they were happy to just stand in an empty gym.

“This is a house,” said Giles. “[Like] you’re on a trip, and you’re coming back, and you get this “ahhhh” feeling.

For them, returning to King/Drew feels more natural than last year’s St. John Bosco School at Bellflower. It has a deeper meaning – the league is heavily focused on the community that spawned it.

“There aren’t many things going on in our city that are like Drew,” Giles said. “The Drew brings in a lot of… superstars, singers, a whole bunch of good energy that the kids in the underprivileged areas can’t see.”

LeBron James on the bench during a Drew League game.

NBA stars like LeBron James often show up randomly to play in the Drew League game.

(Luca Evans/Los Angeles Times.)

When Giles was a child at Drew High School and before that at Russell Elementary School, Preciado served as a school security guard. According to Giles, it’s something special and all “within the community” that the two now work for the Drew League.

“If he retired right now, it would be hard to find another Jorge,” Giles said. “There’s no one like him. He’s special to Drew, and he’s special to society.”

This Saturday, the day Young appeared, Preciado tried to control himself. According to Preciado, he rolled around in that office chair, “playing a fool” during LeBron’s speech last weekend.

However, you cannot remove Preciado from Drew League and Drew League from Preciado.

“Ice Tray missed two free throws in the clutch,” he shouted as Young stood at the line, and one of the spectators collapsed with laughter. “Hot hot!”