Oakland is a hotbed of talent. Producing everything from star MLB outfielders, to elite running backs in the NFL, Oakland has been pumping out the great athletes for years. This team was put together as an actual starting five, not just the five best players from Oakland. The qualifications to make the squad were loose, but it basically boiled down to where the individual played their high school basketball, if it was in the East Bay near Oakland, they’re in.
Disclaimer: Although Paul Pierce spent time in Oakland during his youth, he is an L.A. kid through and through. I would love to be able to rep him because he’s one of the all time greats, but unfortunately he does not qualify.
- G- Gary ‘The Glove’ Payton– Considered by many to be one of the best wing defenders of all time, Payton could lock down virtually anyone in the league for a solid decade. After starring at Skyline High School, Payton took a step onto the national scene with his stellar play at Oregon State University. Payton had a long and (mostly) successful career up in Seattle, embracing the city, but never winning a title there. He went on to play on the Los Angeles Lakers in their disatrous 2004 season, but eventually got his ring playing with Dwyane Wade and Shaquile O’Neal for the Miami Heat. Payton has become one of the ambassadors for Oakland basketball, helping mentor young guys like Damian Lillard and embracing the culture of the East Bay.
- PG- Jason Kidd– Still toiling away in New York, Jason Kidd was one of the most electric players throughout the 2000’s in the NBA, and although he is now playing beyond his prime, we cannot forget how everyone wanted to play with Kidd for a solid decade. He was one of the most attractive commodities in the NBA for years, and eventually got his ring after being paired with Dirk Nowitzki on the Dallas Mavericks. He was a superstar at every level he played. Legendary high school player at St. Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda. National star at Cal. Superstar point guard for the Suns, Nets, Mavericks, and now Knicks. Although he isn’t as heavily involved in Oakland matters anymore, there could only be one guy running the Oak-Team’s offense.
- C- Bill Russell– According to Bill Simmons Book of Basketball, Russell is the greatest player of all time. No doubt the greatest rim protector, Russell has 11 rings, and a few of those he played the role of player/coach. After dominating at McClymonds High School, Russell played his college years across the Bay at University of San Francisco, where he led the Dons to back to back NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956. What hasn’t already been said about Russell? Many don’t believe his game would so flawlessly translate to today’s game, but that’s not his fault, he dominated the era he was in. He fully understood ‘The Secret’ of basketball, as referred to in Simmons BoB, and coined by Isiah Thomas. The game of basketball isn’t about basketball at all, it’s about making those around you better and playing better collectively than as a sum of the individual parts. This, above all things, Russell understood.
- G/F- Isaiah Rider– J.R. Rider was a bit of a journeyman throughout his NBA career, but will definitely go down as one of the best Oakland ballers of all time. Rider played his high school ball at Encinal H.S. and then bounced around to a few colleges before landing at UNLV. He ended up being the fifth overall pick by the Timberwolves and never lived up to the lofty expectations, but always was a great teammate and even averaged 19 points per game for the T’Wolves. But his greatest contribution to the NBA’s ‘Pop-Culture-Sphere’ was his entry on the rap 1994 rap CD ‘B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret’, with the track “Funk in the Trunk”.
- PF- Antonio Davis– Widely considered one of the toughest guys to ever suit up in the NBA, Davis played for some of the most rugged teams, from the mid-nineties Indiana Pacers squads to the mid-2000’s New York Knicks teams. There was always one underlying factor on all these teams that defined their brutality, Davis. He was the ultimate bruiser, caring less about winning the game, and more about winning the fight. Not to take away from his basketball accolades, he was an excellent rebounder, but his game was predicated on physicality. If you came into the lane against the Pacers ‘Davis Brothers’, you were leaving heavily bruised. Davis played his high school ball at McClymonds and then played college at UTEP. His game was never glamorous, but he played for some great teams and is the perfect power forward to embody the playing style of Oakland.
- G- Damian Lillard– The reigning ‘Rookie of the Year’ in the NBA, Lillard made a name for himself at Weber State. Considered one of the biggest wildcards of the 2012 draft, Lillard proved that he belonged after tearing up the league, bringing an immediate relevance back to Portland. He’s already hitting game winners and showing college coaches and GM’s nationwide why they blew it on not picking this kid up. After playing for both St. Joseph Notre Dame and Oakland High School, Lillard was barely recruited to play college ball. It took him a few years to burst onto the national scene, but he is now one of the Trailblazers best pieces moving forward and should have a long and storied career up in the NorthWest.
- G- Brian Shaw– More known these days as one of the best assistant coaches in the NBA, Shaw has been heavily considered for many head coaching jobs the last few years. Playing his high school years at Bishop O’Dowd, Shaw then went on to play at St. Mary’s and UCSB. Shaw is quite literally the definition of a journeyman, having played for 8 different teams in his 14 year professional career. He eventually stuck with the Lakers in the early 2000’s, winning a few titles with them and then becoming an assistant under Phil Jackson. He is currently one of the assistants on Frank Vogel’s Indiana Pacers.
- PF- Leon Powe– Although Powe’s professional career hasn’t quite lived up to his amateur career, he was still an important role player on the 2008 championship Boston Celtics. His knees have prevented him from continuing his playing career in the NBA, but back in the early 2000’s when Powe tore it up at Cal, the sky seemed like the limit. He is currently playing in Puerto Rico, but looking to make his way back to the NBA. At Oakland Tech High School, Powe was a highly rated prep star and was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game. He became the first Oakland Tech athlete to have his number retired by the school.
- PF- Drew Gooden– Gooden has bounced around the league a bit after starring at both Kansas University and El Cerrito High School. He currently plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and has flipped between being a starter and reserve player throughout much of his career. He is the quintessential decent starter on a bad team, or quality role player on a pretty good team. He’s here to fill out the roster, and because of the crazy things he does with his facial hair:
- Paul Silas– While he was a great player back in his day, especially at McClymonds High School, it is Silas’ heavy coaching experience that this Oakland team would need to be lasso’d together to play as a cohesive group. Silas began his coaching career in 1980 for the San Diego Clippers and was recently let go by the Charlotte Bobcats just this past offseason, taking only a few years off between his four coaching gigs.