The Oakland Soldiers and the Oakland Rebels are longtime rivals, but they also believe in good sportsmanship. That's why the commissioners of both teams are speaking out to denounce the conduct at last Sunday's tournament game.
"When I seen the video, I was very disturbed," Melvin Landry with the Oakland Rebels told ABC7. "I've been working in youth sports for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this before." The two teams are among the best known and feared AAU basketball clubs in the state. The Amateur Athletics Union is one of the largest non-profit volunteer sports organizations in the U.S. The rivalry between the two teams is legendary. To find the two of them in a competitive playoff, putting everything on the line, isn't out of the ordinary, but what happened at the game is.
"I've never seen an adult walk onto a court or a playing field and assault a player," Landry said. The Oakland Soldiers, a 16-and-under team were leading in the second half of their championship tournament game against the 17-and-under Oakland Rebels when an unidentified adult male seated behind the Soldiers' bench ran onto the court and threw a punch at the teen player on the Rebel's team. "It was shocking," Mark Olivier said.
It was a move that would stun players, coaches, and fans, and immediately put a stop to the game. The video has received more than 3,000 hits and has become the talk among the league. Comments on social media erroneously identified the adult assailant as a member of the Oakland Soldier's coaching staff, a claim both organizers say is false. "So, it was uncalled for and the sad part is, and I just want to say to the Rebels, I don't know exactly who it was, the kid, his name, but to his parents, we apologize from the Soldier family, but that has no representation of the Soldiers," Olivier said.
Both men stress the value of competitive sports and sportsmanship and they're making moves to assure parents that this will never happen again. "Well, the most thing that really upset me was that an unidentified person came onto the court, assault a kid and was able to get away. That's the thing that upset me the most," Landry said.
Moving forward, both men are appealing to players and fans to help them identify the man who ran onto the court. They also say they will institute a policy of wearing colored jerseys to clearly identify which players belong to which teams.