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Oakland Soldiers Get Gooden Love

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By Risse AKA ‘Town Biz

Hot Prospects 2008

Young Soldiers run drills at Hot Prospects 2007 Drew Gooden grew up playing for the Oakland Soldiers/Slam N Jam youth basketball program.

Now it will bear his name.

The 26-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers forward has made a commitment of money and time to a program that will be known as the Drew Gooden Soldiers. The organization recently hosted the Hot Prospects Invitational camp for select 7th-11th graders in September. This weekend they will host the annual Super 100 Camp at St. Maryʼs College in Moraga, CA. The event is designed for 9th-12th graders who are rated as the best high school players in their respective classes throughout Northern California. (For more information, visit www.slamnjam.org)

Hot Prospects Body Up

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Players body up as Slam N Jamʼs Carl Foster plays Drill Sergeant

“When I started playing with the Soldiers, I did not know much about basketball. I knew I just loved playing,” Gooden said in a statement to the Bay Area News Group. “The Soldiers showed me a whole new world of basketball and life skills. They exposed me to the opportunities that basketball had to offer.

“You could say that the Slam N Jam/Soldiers program provided me with a map and tour guides to the road of success.” Meanwhile, Goodenʼs teammate, superstar LeBron James, has named his Nike LeBron Air Zoom Soldier in honor of the program for which he played during two summers in high school.

“Well, the soldier is kinda what I am on the court,” James told the Bay Area News Group through his publicist. “And then playing for them as a youngster really made it easy to make it that name.” The Soldiers will get sponsorship help from Nike, and its players will receive Jamesʼ Air Zoom Soldier shoes along with other gear.

The Slam N Jam program, in its 18th year, has served more than 1,000 youngsters throughout the Bay Area, helping to prepare dozens of them for college. Seven current NBA players — including Leon Powe, Chauncey Billups and Eddie House — played on the summer league circuit for the Soldiers.

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The ʻTown reps worldwide with Gametime Gear.

A funny thing happened to me when I walked in the Northern California Super 100 Boys Basketball Camp last week, a gathering of the top NorCal high school ballers sponsored by the Slam N Jam Organization in the Bay Area. (www.slamnjam.org)

So I stroll in the gym with loads of Bounce magazines wearing an old pair of EBC shorts. Itʼs no big deal until two feet inside, this man suddenly says, “Those are my shorts.” Huh? At first, I donʼt even trip off ole boy. Then he points to the logo on my baby blue Lady Mustang joints (what up Tone & Rocky!!) and says, “I made those. Those are my shorts.” It is very likely that if this stranger had said that to me back Uptown, I would have thought nothing of it really. But this is over 2,000 miles away and the Bay Area. I decide to investigate.

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Gametime samples

So I surprisingly found another reason to give the hometown some love. Many people donʼt know this, but most of the ill uniform designs out in the past few years have come from the mind of Mark Olivier. His company, Gametime Gear, has done all the heavyweight designs for major players including Entertainerʼs Basketball Classic, adidas, Nike and Reebok. He has designed exclusive joints for tournaments and teams sponsored Jay-Z, Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Antoine Walker, and Baron Davis. The company has serviced everyone from high schools to the Harlem Globetrotters. BXʼs Fat Joe even wore a Gametime design on a cover of Dime this year.

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55th knows that Oakland keeps the game so icy

If nothing else, we should give Olivier dap for this alone: Lebron James. It is Olivier & crew who really should get credit for introducing the world to King James. Mark can tell endless stories of basically breaking elite players in the AAU ranks nationwide through the reputed Oakland Soldiers program. If you know AAU basketball, you are familiar with the Soldiers. They are the ones with camouflage on their uniforms!

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A look at the Soldiers Wall of Fame

LeBron James–who played with the Soldiers while in high school–is by far the most highly recognized talent from their roster to date, while Oakland native and Cavs eammate Drew Gooden is the local Soldiers product turned big-minute big man in the League. In fact, they recently named the team the Drew Gooden Soldiers. Check the butters at: www.gametimegear.net

 

 
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