This week's feature story, “Swoosh Dreams,” describes how the Oakland Soldiers became one of the best travel basketball teams in the country. The program's co-founder, Calvin Andrews, believes that the Soldiers' rise can be charted along three turning points.
The first was when Izzy Washington, the founder of well-known summer league basketball program LA Slam 'N Jam, endorsed Andrews and co-founder Hashim Alauddeen, and sent them money and gear. That gave the Soldiers credibility.
The second was when Sonny Vaccaro, the first man to bring shoe company money to the travel team level, befriended the pair and hooked them up with an Adidas sponsorship. That pulled the Soldiers into the ranks of the elite teams.
The third was when LeBron James put on a Soldiers uniform. That would propel the Soldiers into national prominence.
But how did James, a resident of Akron, Ohio, end up on the Oakland Soldiers?