SPORTS ADDICT: Nothing But Appreciation…
SPORTS ADDICT: Nothing But Appreciation…
To the NBA players who dedicate their off-time from their full-time job of playing basketball to community events such as appearing at a summer camp for kids and interacting with them through different drills and grueling games, thank you.
It’s because of these NBA players that there is reasoning behind the idea of professional athletes still holding an everyday love for the fans, and the game, with all their hearts desire.
Devin Harris, of the Dallas Mavericks, appeared at Shimelpfenig Middle School for the 18th Annual Premier Basketball Camp this past summer and greeted and worked with kids in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
“These kids can play the game,” Harris said with a smile before beginning a game of Knockout with a few kids.
When asked about how he felt after his team wins a game, Harris responded to the kids with laughter and a grin.
“It’s great,” Harris said. “Unless I have Avery [Johnson, Mavericks Head Coach] barking down my back, then I want to go home.”
During the Q&A session, one of the kids asked Harris, “Who are the hardest players to guard in the NBA?”
And Harris’ response?
“[Steve] Nash and Dwayne [Wade],” Harris said.
Harris first began playing hoops at the age of seven, and the first sport he ever really succeeded in was soccer.
“I was really fast, so that made me good at soccer,” Harris said.
The day’s activities concluded with a nail-biting game of Knockout in which 11-year-old camper Jordan Brown came out on top in a wild win over the Mavericks’ guard.
“I feel good after winning, but I am tired,” Brown said after the victory.
Although any onlooker could tell these kids were loving every second of battling Harris in a game of Knockout, Brown had a complete look of confidence on his face the entire time, showing no signs of backing down and with a look of pure determination he drained a tough shot, nothing but net, to knockout the NBA’s Harris for the victory.
“I was just trying to catch up,” Brown said in explaining how he won.
Brown’s competitive nature gave him a wild win over Devin Harris, and most likely it will be a moment this 11-year-old will never forget.
On the very next day, Houston Rockets point guard Luther Head made a public appearance at the summer camp, working with the kids while helping to develop the fundamentals of the game in a fun and loving atmosphere.
When asked what he loved most about participating in these summer basketball camps, Head responded, “the kids… they see us on TV but a lot of kids want to give up, so I like to come back, and I know a lot of players that play basketball will come back, and show those kids they can still do it… just keep them focused and keep them going.”
For Head, though, the number one piece of advice he would give to a kid striving to reach the NBA is to never give up.
“Don’t ever let anyone tell them that they’re not good enough,” Head said. “In order to get to the NBA you’ve got to work hard, and everybody can work hard and do the same.”
Head says the most important thing he has learned on the court that carries over to life is the aspect of going into things with the right mentality.
“Not just going in there [to NBA practices and games] and playing around with everyone,” Head said. “Go into it [the NBA] like a business and go into it with the right mentality and keep your body right and keep everything good.”
Because of players like Harris and Head, it gives me hope in professional NBA players.
It gives me hope that pro players out there still care about and love the game and the fans just as much as an avid, actively involved parent attending every game, recital or competition for their kids.
As a sportswriter, and as the town’s sports editor, I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to sit down with pro athletes, such as Harris and Head, and really talk to them about life and love outside of the NBA.
For the kids at Shimelpfenig Middle School that attended the Premier Basketball Camp, it’s an experience these kids will never forget.
As a fan and writer of sports such as professional basketball, I applaud players like Harris and Head for taking a stand when it comes to community involvement and a love for the kids and the fans.
The same rings true for L.A. Clippers guard Daniel Ewing, who also attended the camp.
As stated in many columns thus far, the games we cover, the games we love, are about much more than just a score.
They are about much more than winning or losing.
It’s about working together as a team to accomplish a common goal.
It’s about saying, “It’s not about me; it’s about the team.”
It’s about doing the impossible as a group of kids with pure heart and passion for the game compete and beat a team with more talent but less heart.
It’s all about the love, and players such as Harris, Head and Ewing prove that.
For the kids, parents, coaches and fans involved in this annual camp, they know and realize that factor.
Because, as you can see, these guys love the game… and they love these kids as well.
Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org