SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The city of Oakland has a rich, firmly established basketball history, steeped in tradition and lore found in few other places. Oakland has forged a well-deserved reputation as a source of basketball royalty blessed with prodigious talent. It began with the legendary Bill Russell – perhaps the greatest winner in team sports history – and is populated by a who’s who of NBA stars past and present. Jason Kidd, Gary Payton, Paul Silas, Brian Shaw and Antonio Davis – among many others– have followed in Russell’s worn footsteps, but their success is just a part of the story. The Town Game: Two Lives, Two Paths, a one-hour documentary about a pair of Oakland natives who played a different brand of basketball in the face of adversity, premieres on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Monday, April 9 at 9 p.m. PT.
The Town Game: Two Lives, Two Paths trailer is available at: http://www.csnbayarea.com/towngame
The Town Game tells the tumultuous tale of young men who did not make it out of impoverished Oakland, but also of the heroes who did. The ones who never made it out succumbed to the temptations of the streets rather than rising above the harsh realities of an unstable home life. The program presents the stories of Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell, who has been called “one of the best basketball players never to make it to the NBA,” and Leon Powe, who was raised in poverty and instability, and went on to win an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics.
The Town Game visits with Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell, a sub-6 foot streetball legend best known for his ability to dunk over parked cars. Learn Mitchell’s heartbreaking tale, from his often non-existent relationship with his parents to his early drug use and later his incarceration. Journey with Hook through the streets of West Oakland to find out where it all went wrong, and hear from his contemporaries, who say Hook could have been the best basketball player to ever come from the Bay Area.
The program also features Leon Powe, a model of resiliency, who was able to shake off early childhood tragedy. Learn about his nomadic life that included multiple foster homes and the sudden death of his troubled mother, just days before he was set to play in the finals of the state high school championships. Powe takes us to the court where he first fell in love with basketball, shows us the house he was brought to as a ward of the state, and explains why an accidental house fire started him on a wild ride that led him to become an NBA Champion.
The Town Game documents the lives of Oakland basketball players and how they dealt with the struggles they faced. It intertwines the stories of Mitchell and Powe as they relate to Oakland streetball, told from their perspective and that of the people who surrounded them, including Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw, Antonio Davis, Drew Gooden, Greg Foster, Paul Silas, Chris Mullin, Marshawn Lynch, Josh Johnson, and others. The program tells “their” stories -- from the long nights they spent honing jump shots under the Oakland moonlight to the iconic Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournaments and heated high school battles, from their lives off the courts and in the community to memories from the golden era of playground basketball in Oakland. The program shows exactly what it’s like to grow up in the basketball breeding ground that is Oakland.
Excerpts from The Town Game: Two Lives, Two Paths:
Hook Mitchell (Oakland streetball legend, McClymonds High School):
On what drugs turned him into: “At one point of my life a lot of people in West Oakland were fearful of me because I’d take their money, take their drugs. I was really hurtful towards them. You ever seen a monster? It was like a monster living in a human body.”
On how Leon Powe chose the right path in life: “One bad decision and Leon could be in the same position that I am. So I take my hat off to Leon.”
Leon Powe (2008 NBA World Champion, Cal All-American, Oakland Technical High School):
On what it means to be from Oakland: “You keep fighting, keep moving forward. Because Oakland is not a city that feels sorry for you. It’s a city that you got to push through tough adversity moments and if you do that, I think you prevail. If you don’t, the city could swallow you up.”
On raising his brothers and sisters: “We had to sacrifice, sometimes not eating every night, to let one of our other little brothers or sisters eat. Had to sacrifice sometimes even going to school. I had to go watch them, stay home from school to watch the kids.”
On his search for a father figure as a young child: “I had no father figure, so I was always hanging out with the older cats on the street corner, drug dealers, whoever, sometimes murderers, but I knew that; it’s just that they looked out for me and tried to teach me different stuff.”
Brian Shaw (14-year NBA veteran, three-time NBA Champion, Bishop O’Dowd High School):
On Hook Mitchell’s playing ability: “He was a smart basketball player. His basketball IQ was as high as Jason’s (Kidd), Gary’s (Payton), anybody’s. Physically, he was more gifted than anybody, in terms of being able to run and jump and just run and play all day long.”
On his proud Oakland roots: “People say to me all the time, ‘How come you love Oakland so much?’ I guess it would take for you to live here and to grow up here and experience what I have.”
Greg Foster (13-year NBA veteran, 2001 NBA Champion, Skyline High School):
On where Hook Mitchell ranks in Oakland’s list of all-time greats: “Probably the best athlete to ever come out of Oakland, in my opinion, he was just as good as any of us, could have been a professional basketball player, but like a lot of other sad stories out there, life on the streets got him and he didn’t get that opportunity.”
Chris Mullin (Basketball Hall of Famer, Former Golden State Warriors player and General Manager):
On the legacy of Hook Mitchell: “He reminded me of the playground legend that just couldn’t get it together…All the talent in the world. At some point, just get the game of life. Never mind the game of basketball, just play that game of life.”
Jason Kidd (17-year NBA veteran, 2011 NBA Champion, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School):
On developing his game in Oakland: “It probably made me the player that I am.”
Josh Johnson (NFL quarterback, Oakland Technical High School):
On Leon Powe’s perseverance: “You’re 14 (years old), you should be out playing. But he was sleeping in a car trying to make sure his brothers and sisters were fine. That happens a lot out here (streets of Oakland), and just to see someone prosper through that type of stuff is setting the example that you can make it up out of here.”
Calvin Andrews (BDA Sports Management, El Cerrito High School):
On Leon Powe’s destitution: “It was to the point where he had no money to eat lunch – I mean his way of eating lunch was drinking enough water until he was full. His clothing allowance was $120 for the year, so he would go buy a pair of pants and a shirt, and he was done, and those were his clothes. So he would wear basketball shorts to school just to break it up, and so it really hit my heart.”
The program is narrated by iconic Oakland activist Bobby Seale and features an original soundtrack by Oakland’s Del the Funky Homosapien.
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