The American Basketball Association has hit Stockton Arena. Once popular in the 1960-1970s, the ABA now a league where athletes can play at a high level while staying local. One of the league's newest members is named Team Trouble but they're bringing a lot of positivity to the community.
"These men that are on this team, a lot of them grew up in this community," team owner James Paul said. "A lot of these kids really have the opportunity to see that path and how that path is something that they could also follow."
Team Trouble's inaugural season tipped off in November and they haven't lost a game so far. The team is about more than wins and losses and the impact it has on its community reaches beyond the basketball court.
"To me, I like giving back just as much as playing now," Team Trouble forward and Stockton native Aaron Stallworth said. "These last few months I didn't know how much these kids needed us. I'm getting emotional just talking about it."
The team's mission is to provide not only entertainment but a safe space for kids in Stockton and because of that, admission to games is mostly free.
"Now everywhere I go it could be the simple Food 4 Less kids run up to me, jump on me like 'hey, you're number 13 from Stockton professional basketball!'" Stallworth said. "It brings tears to my eyes."
The players are taking on new positions as role models and mentors by spending their afternoons at the gym with local kids.
"For us being mentors, it's huge. It's monumental," Team Trouble guard Christian Williams said. "Hopefully it's going to make us better men."
Team Trouble is about more than money, exposure, and keeping players hoop dreams alive. It's about helping kids in Stockton to thrive.
"To me, this is the dream," Williams said. "If I can come do this every day I'll feel successful and I'll feel proud. It's bigger than basketball and we're doing it for the city."
Team Trouble has a home game tomorrow, Saturday, February 2, at 2:09 p.m. at the Stockton Arena. You can see the team's complete schedule here.