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Boys & Girls Club of Albany Athletics

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Jul, 2015

It's gotta be the shoes

July 25, 2015 5:51 pm  •  

A section of Heritage Mall’s parking lot was filled with 20 basketball courts on Saturday for Hoop Jam, Albany’s annual 3-on-3 tournament, and the area was filled with the sounds of the sport, such as the ball bouncing on the pavement, referees blowing whistles and sneakers squeaking.

And there were plenty of players with serious shoe game.

“That’s the first thing I notice on someone,” said Trevyn Roberts, 18, of Salem, after his team, Coast Busters, lost a hotly-contested game.

Shoes with neon colors or patterns seemed particularly popular this year — although there were some old-school all-blacks. Roberts wore a pair of garish Kobe Bryant Nike models with splotches that vaguely resembled melted crayons.

They’re one of about 35 pairs of basketball shoes he owns.

“I only play in Kobes,” said teammate Braden Taylor, 19, who wore a pair with blue and white geometric design.

Bryant’s signature Adidas model was Taylor’s first pair of real basketball shoes, way back when he was in the fourth grade, and the Salem resident has stuck with the star player’s kicks ever since.

“They’re too comfortable,” he said. “Chris Paul and Steph Curry are my favorite players, but I’ll never wear their shoes.”

Fashion is important to many players, but function remains king.

“They have to be comfortable and grippy,” said Koby Ruiz, 12, of Albany, after his Bulldog Warriors team thumped an opponent. He wore a bright salmon-colored pair of LeBron James’ signature shoe.

“I don’t really like him. I just like the shoes,” Ruiz said.

His friend Alexander Harer, 12, of Albany, had blue and pink LeBrons.

“I guess we do like bright colors,” he said.

Coach Ian Joustra, 25, who played basketball for West Albany High School, was more subdued, with a pair of white Adidas endorsed by Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.

“Keeping it local. Bought them right here at Foot Locker when they first came out,” he said.

Endya Robinson, 13, of Lebanon, said she usually looks for color when shoe shopping.

“If they go with the jersey, or if it’s my favorite color, I’ll go for that,” she said. She had on a pair of Nikes with purple accents, the same color as her glasses.

Taylor said he’d dial it up a notch with a pair of “Fourth of July” Kobes on Sunday, but he and his teammates also made clear that they needed to play better.

“We’ll bounce back tomorrow. The ball didn’t bounce our way today,” Roberts said.

The point of the game, after all, is to win, but you can still look good doing it.

Hoop Jam is an annual fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Albany, and it usually attracts about 3,000 people, including 600 players. Organizers hope to raise $15,000 this year.

The event started in Corvallis in 1999, but moved to Albany in 2007.

Play continues tomorrow with games going from 9:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m.

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