RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Five years ago, Joyce Patterson said her son approached her with a dilemma. He said there was a pool of basketball talent in Richmond, but without a professional basketball team, players had little to no options.
Patterson decided to fill that void and started “Richmond Elite,” the city’s only professional ABA basketball team. Five seasons later, the team stands undefeated 9-0 and Patterson has sent 12 of her players to play basketball overseas.
“Each player on that team has a story to tell how Richmond Elite has assisted them to the next level of basketball,” Patterson said.
The team’s coaches, Michael Sailes and Gene Brown, have been working together and playing ball for years. They said it’s not easy keeping a professional team alive, but Patterson has put her heart and soul into the team and the results speak for themselves.
“I think it really goes without saying, without Mrs. Patterson, there’s no Richmond Elite,” Sailes said. “What she’s doing is wonderful. I’m glad she stepped up to the plate to something I feel that Richmond has needed.”
Anthony Wynn, Team Captain, has known Patterson since he was in grade school. He said coming back to Richmond and joining the team was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
“It’s big for me, definitely being from Richmond,” Wynn said. “That’s the biggest part of it: Which kid or any player wouldn’t love to play for their own city and represent? It’s a big thing to me and it’s good to show kids that everybody can’t make it to the NBA, but you can represent your home team and as another stepping stone to make it to the next level.”
He said it’s the woman behind the team that gives them the strength and perseverance to be the best in the league.
Former men’s basketball coach for Virginia Union University is now starting as Richmond Elite’s Point Guard. Luqman Jaaber said the team’s message goes beyond basketball.
“I think at the end of the day we’re giving people the opportunity to enjoy basketball and in a positive environment,” Jaaber said. “Just come out and support. We need support for our Richmond Elite team. Right now we’re top two, top three in the league and undefeated and we have a really good team.”
Richmond Elite’s next basketball game is set for Saturday February 13 at 6 p.m. You can buy tickets online or at the door or online here.
All this week, 8News reporters Evanne Armour and Roxie Bustamante are introducing viewers to people like Joyce Patterson who are going “Above & Beyond” in their communities. That segment airs every day this week at 5 a.m. on Good Morning Richmond.