It's a game with an impact beyond the court.
Aaron Watkin is a detective with the Bakersfield police department. He and other BPD officers traded their badges and uniforms for a jersey and a basketball Saturday night.
The inaugural First Responders’ Basketball game against the Bakersfield Magic was not his first time on the court. The first responder of ten years grew up playing basketball, and he regularly shoots hoops with fellow people in law enforcement.
“On our lunch breaks, we’ll go work out, play some basketball, and then go back to work,” Watkin said. “It’s way for us to get together and deal with the stress of being a police officer in today’s society.”
Basketball and sports in general have a way of bringing people together, according to Watkin. The spectators in the crowd saw a different side of law enforcement Saturday night.
“Yeah they’re human, just like us,” Bakersfield Magic center Marcus Beil. “I don’t see them any different. They’re trying to protect us. Now they’re trying to have fun with us. I’m with it.”
Eyes are on the newest Bakersfield sports team as they gear up for the start of their season in March, but that was not the focus of Saturday's game, according to The Basketball League commissioner Carlnel Wiley.
“They’re (law enforcement) actually the ones on stage tonight. Let’s be real. It’s fabulous. They need the love too. They’ve done so much hard work out there in giving and sacrificing their lives, then coming home to their families. They’re incredible,” Wiley said.