By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN â€“ There will be no Larry Gaines Stop the Violence Basketball Tournament in Camden this year, another victim of the coronavirus pandemic as organizer Reggie Gaines said he is in a “wait in see” mode on how to return.
The marquee youth and young person summer outdoor basketball tournament in the Mid-Atlantic that helped start professional basketball careers while promoting nonviolence and community is usually held in August every year. This was to be its 25th anniversary.
“We’re just going to have to hold off for now and see what’s going on,” Gaines told Front Runner New Jersey last week. “The virus is dropping here as far as older people but it’s increasing for young people. We want everyone to be safe.”
Every summer, Camden becomes the center of the amateur basketball world with the tournament, last year held at Bergen Square Park at the corner of Fourth and Washington streets. NBA players Dajuan Wagner and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have played in the intensive, competitive games.
A girls tournament has been added in recent years, drawing some of the best young players from the tri-state area and beyond. He said he knows there is a lot of pent-up energy among young people to take to the court, seeing some 200 kids at a basketball court over the summer before city officials took the basket goals down because of the virus.
“They weren’t thinking anything about social distancing,” Gaines said. “All they wanted to do was play.”
Gaines said he had not had thoughts about moving the tournament back because of the uncertainty of the pandemic.
“I think it’s better that way,” Gaines said. “I didn’t want to have things planned and then have to cancel them.”
Larry Gaines Stop the Violence, created by Reggie Gaines’ brother in 1995 before he died, has grown to support community event around the year. Gaines said LGSTV gave away turkeys and toys to needy families in the Camden area last Christmas and hopes to do the same this year.
At one time New Jersey only stood behind New York as the state with the worst coronavirus outbreaks. As of Sunday, Camden County has had 8,334 positive tests and 518 confirmed deaths.
New Jersey, though, has become one of the nation’s leaders in driving down cases, from 4,790 positive cases per every 100,000 on April 1 to 8 per every 100,000 on July 31.
Gaines said LGSTV will play a part in keeping those numbers going in a positive direction until it’s time to come out and play again.
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