All while spreading a positive message to the audience, Oakland, CA.’s Harlem Crowns dazzled roughly 300 lakecity basketball fans last Saturday.
Lightspeed passing, trick balling, props, dunks, audience participation and practical jokes were much to the crowd’s delight as the Crowns downed five players from the Williams Lake Basketball League 102-65 in a light-hearted game, which was also a fundraiser for the Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society — an organization devoted to promoting health and personal wellness through its programs for First Nations youth.
Even Ron Bisaro, who was refereeing his fourth Harlem Crowns game in Williams Lake, was the butt of several pranks played by the Crowns throughout the game.
Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society executive director Sarah Jackman said close to $900 was raised at the game, which was generously donated at the door by fans who were in attendance.
“It was great,” Jackman said.
“The fans were super generous. I couldn’t believe it because you always hear about how bad our economy is.”
At half time all five players from the Crowns spoke to the crowd relaying a positive message mostly directed at the youth in attendance.
All the players grew up in rough neighbourhoods in Oakland, and several mentioned how sports and basketball saved them from a life on the streets.
“Their primary message was reminding people to stay active and involved in physical activity,” said Williams Lake player Sean Glanville.
“They discussed how the benefits of sports reach well beyond just fitness and health, and how sports help fight anxiety and depression, teaches self esteem and about commitments to goals, social skills and gives the opportunity to travel and to meet new people.”
Glanville added it was a treat for the lakecity quintet to suit up against the Crowns, who are currently on a B.C.-wide tour.
“It was nice to play in front of a full crowd and I think everyone left happy,” he said.
“The Crowns always provide comedy as well as basketball talent.”