Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Dealing with Daunting Nostalgia"

Angela Davidson deemed the top female Skill Development Trainer in the Dallas/Metroplex and among the nation's best at the conclusion of 2010. Angela is the CEO/Founder of Non/for profit organizations Kingdom Building Basketball and Universal Basketball Solutions in affiliation with her responisibilities as the Director of Player Development for the Mark Cuban Dallas Heroes Basketball Academy. As a former professional player, Davidson specialized in female Player Development  in addition to creating quality exposure and experiences for academy members through effective mentor programs and professional outlets such as parent organizations in the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Legends.

by Angela Davidson

The idea of playing professional basketball in an overseas venue is one that captures the mind of many athletes, but the reality of nostalgia that can spread like that of influenza in players not poised and prepared to experience international basketball in a world away from home is not.  In other words, this "clause of nostalgia" is not identified nor will it be found within a Player Agreement  or Federal National Letter of Intent although it is the imminent sickness that discourages players, breeches contracts, and ends careers altogether when not calculated. 
According to an explanatory study provided by Holak and Halvena (1992), of the Themes and Emotions in the Nostalgia Experience,  "'nostalgia proneness' has been hypothesized to peak as individuals move into middle age".   This proves that athletes should prepare in preseason and be made aware at all cost to execute efforts to control, prevent, or avoid nostalgia. 

Initially, understanding what nostalgia is according to one's individual experience, temperament should be taken into account. By definition listed in Dictionary.com the term nostalgia is a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, homeland, or to one's family and friends.  For some athletes on a preliminary phase this means that the ideation of getting sick can merely be equated to getting past the airport gate waiving goodbye or something as typical as "traveler's diarrhea".
The importance is that at this point that there is not a dismissal of any possible detriment to a player's well being. In the event that not every player will experience these changes in their digestive tract there are still yet other ailments that can effect a player's physiological equilibrium that can create the onset of the impairment. Discouraging situations by association of recollection of old success or even failures in former systems can derive within the season and defer attention and effort and exhaust a player's mental capacity to fulfill their job description as well.  While discouragements come through on court development elements of chemistry and establishing a common communication factor among foreign teammates often plague a player's performance and distress escalates.  Before a player even recognizes it obscure issues or unfinished business on the home front ranging from familial issues, long distance relationships to what become unavoidable responsibilities, inevitable breeches result that are consequential in worst case scenarios that are career ending situations.  

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Being a champion is about details, hard work and consistency" Chris Paul says. Amazing interview by Coach Alan Stein to the New Orleans Hornets superstar: "Many of the top players are just so athletic and talented but they don't really know how to play and think the game"

This is a guest blog from Alan Stein, the owner of Stronger Team and the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the nationally renowned Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boys basketball program. He spent 7 years serving a similar position with the Montrose Christian basketball program. Alan brings a wealth of valuable experience to his training arsenal after years of extensive work with elite high school, college and NBA players.
Alan Stein worked the Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp and had the opportunity to interview the New Orleans Hornets PG. Chris Paul (6'0", born May 6, 1985, college: Wake Forest) born and raised in North Carolina. Since being selected 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft by New Orleans, Paul has been a NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), a three-time All Star, and an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team honoree. He has also won an Olympic Gold Medal with the USA National basketball team.

by Alan Stein

I was fortunate enough to work the 2nd Annual Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp. I sat down with Chris Paul on the final morning of camp to ask him questions about his training. Please note, I have paraphrased his answers, these are not verbatim. I didn't use a recorder, I merely scribbled notes as fast I could when writing down his answers!

At what age (or grade) did you first start lifting weights?

I didn't start to lift weights until I got to Wake Forest. Coach Prosser was a big advocate of it. I needed to get stronger to compete at that level.

How do you feel like it helped your game?

Getting bigger and stronger helped me compete with the big time players in the ACC. It made me stronger with the ball and on defense. I only weighed 155 lbs in high school! I got up to about 175 in college, and although I am currently listed at 175 lbs, I am actually right around 190 lbs. I have worked hard to get stronger and put on some muscle to help me survive the rigorous NBA season. I feel so much more powerful now.

Why do you think strength & conditioning for basketball players is important?

Strength and conditioning is not just about lifting weights and running sprints. While that is certainly part of it; so is stability training (for balance) and flexibility. All of these components help you move better on the court. Going from high school to college the game gets so much more physical. You go from playing with boys to playing with men. You need the extra strength.

What does your off season training program consist of now?

Since this was my first summer off in a couple of years (because of the Olympics in 2008) I took more time off than normal after the season (about a month). My body and mind needed a rest. But now I am back in full force. If I am not working with my private trainer I follow the program set up by the Hornets strength & conditioning coach. My main focus is getting stronger (especially in my core), improving my flexibility (I used to not be able to touch my toes!), and maintaining my new bodyweight (+10 lbs). I usually get up around 7am and eat breakfast, then do my dynamic flexibility and my strength work, then I take a few hours off, and then come back and do my court work (ball handling, shooting, etc.). At night I spend about an hour stretching. That has helped me more than you know.

What is the biggest difference between playing in college and in the NBA?

The speed of the game is certainly faster, but the biggest adjustment for me, since I play so many minutes every night, is how long the season is. 82 games plus pre-season plus playoffs is a grind! Your mind and your body have to be strong and durable.

What did you learn from your Olympic experience?

I learned what it takes to be a true champion. I never won a state title in high school. I never won a national title in college. I haven't won a national championship in the League yet. So this was my first time being a real champion. Luckily I got to do it on the biggest stage in the world! Being a champion is about details, hard work, and consistency. People forget we prepared for over 3 years to win that gold medal!

What do high school and college players need to improve on the most?

They need to learn how to really play the game. They need to learn how to think the game. Many of the top players are just so athletic and talented; they never learn how how to really play. They also rely too much on their athletic ability and not enough on proper fundamentals and footwork. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Exclusive interview with PG Will Blalock of the Townsville Crocs (Australian NBL). "Being drafted by the Pistons was definitely a dream come true. Words couldn't describe how happy me and family were at that very moment"

Will Blalock (6-1, born September 8, 1983, in Boston, Massachusetts) attended Iowa State University (2003-2006) and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round with the last pick (60th overall) in the 2006 NBA Draft. He played in Israel (Hapoel Jerusalem), in the D-League (Anaheim Arsenal) and in Germany (Artland Dragons). Blalock is now playing for the Townsville Crocs in the Australian NBL. Will talked to Basketball Telegraph columnist Dr FingerRoll about his love for the game, the dream came true of playing in the NBA, the dramatic eposide that forced him to sit out and put his life in danger, and his professional rebirth.

Will, let's start from the very beginning. Can you go back to your childhood years and tell our readers your very first memory related to basketball?

 My very memory with basketball was around 6 years old and I was always playing ball in the house and my mother would always tell to never bounce the ball in the house.

Who was your basketball role model growing up?

Growing up I loved Magic Johnson and I also thought I would grow to be 6'9 and be able to play point guard but also do the tip-off as a 5 man.

Was there an episode that you can recall that made you think that you were more than just an average baller and that basketball could become your job?

When I played AAU (which is juniors in high school) I had a lot of interest from Div 1 schools from around the country and they started comparing me to some of the top PG's in my class, like Chris Paul for example.

From Boston you moved to Iowa to study and play for the Cyclones. Was it the first time away from home and what are your memories of the college years?

Going to ISU was my first time being away from home for that long of a period of time. I enjoyed every moment of my college experience and I actually think about it at least once a day because it was a time in my life when I felt free and on my own so to speak, so naturally being away from home was tough at first but it was for the better.

After 3 fruitful seasons you declared for the Draft and got selected by the Pistons. Your childhood dream was becoming true...how did it feel?

Being drafted was definitely a dream come true; words couldn't describe how happy me and my close friends and family were at that very moment.

For those who have yet to see you play, what type of player is Will Blalock on the court?

Will Blalock is an unselfish play-maker with the ability to also score but prides himself on Defense and getting teammates open shots.

Will, something happened in the summer of 2008. Something that could have put an end not only to your career but to your life. Can you tell us what happened and how did that episode change, if it did, your priorities in life?

 The summer of 2008 was definitely a life changing event. It was definitely a wake up call from God, I was waiting to board a flight headed to Seattle to workout for the Sonics and I began to lose feeling in my arms legs and feet, I was rushed to the hospital and after many test and scans they said I had experienced a minor stroke.

After some months where you were forced to sit out, a call from Europe came. Your career wasn't over...

The second phase of my career started in Germany when a coach gave me a chance and I played for the Artland Dragons in Germany's top league. That experience was great and gave me the confidence and overall strength to say to myself that I could do this at a high level still, I just needed the opportunity to showcase it.

Who's Will Blalock off the court, tell our readers something about the man Will Blalock.

Will Blalock off the court is a proud father of a son (Nisaiah 4 yrs old) and soon to be born in Feb 2011 daughter (Shyla) and I value my family more than anything and after that I'm a bball junkie if I'm not playing bball video games I'm watching euro league DVDs or live NBA games.

Thank you Will, and best of luck for your season with the Crocs in Australia!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with veteran PG Eddie Shannon. Size of the heart and passion for the game. And now a new challenge: "A Foundation to keep the kids off the streets"

Former Gator Eddie Shannon, the  5-11 point-guard from Riviera Beach, Florida, talked to Basketball Telegraph columnist Dr FingerRoll about his long and successful career overseas and about the accident that could have changed his life and his professional career, but simply couldn’t. Why? Too big his heart, too deep his love for the game.

Eddie, you were born and raised in Florida, where football is probably the most popular sport. Have you always been a bball guy or were there other sports attracting you?

Growing up I played basketball, baseball, and football. Many people from my community think that I was better at baseball and football when I was young. I stop playing baseball and football at the age of 16. But I follow them closely! I have a huge love for football.

How did you fall in love with the game? Any childhood memories related to basketball that you want to share with our readers?

I started trying to play at the age of 6. I'm not sure how I fell in love, maybe because I was always more talented than the kids my age but I was also the smallest most of the time. But I was a sports fanatic and I was very good at basketball, baseball, and football. There was something about bball that interested me a little more than the others.

When you were a teenager something happened to you that could have changed your life dramatically. Can you tell us that episode please and how did you react and fought through it to become a pro basketball player?

Well, in a freak accident playing with friends, I was hit in the eye with a rock at the age of 13 (nothing dramatic). It happened during the morning before school. Later that evening I played in a youth football league game. After the game my eye began to bother and was very red. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed as having a bloodclot and it had to be surgically removed. My family wasn't rich so we went to a doctor that we could afford, so apparently the doctor didn't clean out all of the blood from my eye. My eye got infected and within 6 months I needed another surgery because the infection caused me to develop a cataract in the eye. This took more time away from sports. The cataract was removed but my vision never became clear again. I never complained because I didn't want to miss anymore time from playing sports. Basically, after that football game that night I could never see 100% out of my right eye. Eventually I lost all vision before my senior year in college.

After a brilliant career at University of Florida (as a serion you led a young Gator team to the Sweet Sixteen) were you expecting a call from the NBA or playing overseas was your first choice?

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I knew teams would be concerned about my eye. But if they knew the size of my heart and my passion for bball they wouldn't worry about it. I played very well in the pre-draft camps and I had great workouts for Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Golden State Warriors. But no one drafted me. I was a bit disappointed. I was drafted 2nd in the ABA, which no longer exists and I never went there.

You played in Sweden, Russia, Italy, Greece, France, Croatia, Latvia and you just signed for Australian League’s Adelaide 36ers. Is it difficult to adjust lifestyle and adapt to places that are so different from home and so different one year to the next?

It's tough but it's my job. I'm very easy to get along with, so I've never really had a problem with new teammates. I've actually had a lot of fun learning new cultures and seeing new places. The toughest part is being away from family for extended periods of time.

Eddie, in all the teams you played you left nice memories and the local fans are always happy to see you play even if you wear a different jersey. Why is that according to you?

I think so because I'm a good person. I'm very humble and I treat everyone with respect whether they are 5 or 65. People respect that because some sportsmen are arrogant and disrespectful.

You're 33 and your career is far from over, but are you already thinking about the future and what you're going to do after the pro years will be over?

I'm not exactly sure but it will certainly be involved with basketball. I wanna coach. Maybe volunteer at a high school. I really want to work with my oldest son because he loves sports and I don't get to spend enough time playing with him.

Can you tell us something about the Camp you started out in Florida last summer?

It was a camp that I did in my hometown for kids 5-17. It's something that I will continue to do each year. I started it because my community did so much for me when I was growing up and I want to give back. Share some of my knowledge and experiences with the kids, so they can see that they can make it from where we come from. Because it's not easy! Me and my best friend have a foundation called UBBL (Using Basketball To Better Lives). We provide programs and activities to keep the kids off the streets.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Exclusive interview with Japanese-American forward Michael Takahashi Dorsey: "I have always the same intense desire to win"

Michael Takahashi Dorsey (6-6, forward, 1974) was born in Japan from a Japanese mother and an American father. The family moved to California when he was 2 and in California he learned how to play basketball, dreaming of Magic, Kareem and Worthy. He attended and played college basketball at California State at Northridge before crossing the Ocean to play professional basketball in Japan, where he joined the National Team and where he has been one of the most consistent and respected players for more than a decade. Michael talked to BT columnist Dr FingerRoll about his career thus far.

Michael, you were born in Japan but moved to the States when you were a two years old little baby. How did you first fall in love with the game of basketball and do you have any childhood memories that are basketball-related?

My first real memories of basketball were growing up in Los Angeles and watching the Lakers in the 80's win  championships. I remember watching Magic, Kareem, and Worthy compete with a intense will to win. I can recall watching playoff games as a kid and getting so nervous during crunch time that I would have to leave or cover my eyes because I just couldn't watch. After the game was over I would go outside and practice moves on the street signs and on the trees faking like they were baskets. Great memories!!

You had a very good college career. Was the NBA in your dreams during the college years and have you ever had a opportunity to play in the League?

I started playing organized basketball at a pretty late age, not till I got to high school did I have access to a gym and coaching. As a result I was a late bloomer. Everybody dreams of playing in the NBA but my skills were very limited in college. I was really athletic but pretty much played the power forward position at 6-6. Not really the ideal height for an NBA PF. When I got to Japan I really tried to develop my skills and starting playing the small forward position but I was in a great place and loved what I was doing so I didn't pursue the NBA as hard as I probably should have.

Like you said, after college you went to play in Japan. We're talking about 15 years ago. How was basketball in Japan in those days? And can you briefly tell our readers how did the game develop through the years?

Throughout my career in Japan I've seen basketball have its high time and lows. I think the development of the Japanese players has increased. More players are trying to go overseas and play in the NBA summer league which you didn't really see when I first got to Japan. This can only help their development. When I first came to Japan we were on the verge of participating in some major international championships. We almost made the Olympics which would've been great for our sports growth but since it didn't happen basketball took a back seat to some of the other sports that were doing well in international competition. I feel now with our National Team improving and the players gaining experience, it will help the growth of the sport.

You played for the Japanese NT at the World Cup in 1998 and in other main international events. Tell us something about the experience with the NT and playing against the world's best.

Playing for the NT has been one of the most rewarding parts of playing basketball for me. I was able to travel the world and experience many different cultures which I believe help me grow as a person. Being able to compete against the world's best was fulfilling because I got a chance to test my skills and see how I measured up. It also opened my eyes to all the talent the world has to offer. There are so many good basketball players not playing in the NBA that many people may not have heard of. It's definitely an experience I would trade for nothing.

For those that haven't seen you play, could you describe the player Michael Takahashi Dorsey on the court?

Me as a player now is very different than me as a player 15 years ago. At the core I'm the same player, I have the same intense desire to win. I will do anything I can to help my team win. Gone are the dynamic dunks replaced by old veteran moves. Individual accomplishments and awards mean nothing to me if team success is not accomplished. I love to compete!! That's why I still play. To have the chance to bring my team on the court against yours and see who's better prepared and who will execute their game plan. That's why I play.

And who's Michael Takahashi off the court as a person?

My life now is my family! I have a beautiful wife and two young kids. Everything I do now is for them. I try to set a good example for my kids to see and try to be the best husband and father I can be. I'm just trying to be a good man!

You're 36 and approaching the end of your career. What are your plans for the future?

After I finish playing I would love to be able to do something with my basketball experience. Coaching or clinics, working with kids trying to teach them the things I've learned over my career. Honestly though my future changes all the time. The possibilities are endless! I'm excited and nervous about what life after basketball is going to be like. I've been a basketball player for a very long time. I feel very blessed!!

Thank you  for talking to us and best of luck for your season with Toyota Alvark.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Exclusive Q&A with Nigerian forward-center Julius Nwosu. "My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA Moscow. Had lot of fun and we never lost a game at home in the entire season"

Julius Nwosu embodies perfectly the philosophy of Basketball Telegraph. He was born (May 1, 1971) and raised in Nigeria, played college ball at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, then played in the NBA (San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics) before travelling all over the world to do what he liked best. In his pro career the Nigerian forward (6-8, 255 lbs) played in almost 20 different Countries and more than 20 different Leagues: he won the Russian League in 1996 with CSKA Moscow and the French League in 2001 with Pau-Orthez and played with european powerhouses Panathinaikos Athens (Greece) and Galatasaray (Turkey). Julius talked to BT analyst Dr FingerRoll about growing up in Nigeria, falling in love with the game as a teenager and about his best pro season of his long career.
Julius, you were born and raised in Nigeria. Can you tell us how you fell in love with the game of basketball?

Growing up in Nigeria was a great experience, if not the best. Being a kid in Nigeria, we knew so much and heard so much about the Western Countries and USA was considered the best.  So often people described USA as a unimaginable place, and it seemed like they were the best in everything, when we used to see them in the Olympics they would blow everyone out, they looked cool. The blacks were more interesting to us, even though the whites were more respected. As youngsters, we played every sports we could as long as it was available to us, but in basketball seemed like everyone had some kind of tie to USA, they were so cool, the style of the game was pure chemistry and graceful. It was the most exciting thing I have ever seen as a kid.
Then the stories that came with the game, the way people told them, stories about Dr J, Micheal Jordan for instance, then we had the chance to watch a few NCAA games that a guy brought back from USA and we saw our very own Akeem Olajuwon, Houston vs Georgetown, and that sealed the deal for me that I must go to the States, and play in college there.

After attending HS in Nigeria, you crossed the Ocean to study and play at Liberty University. How did it happen that you went to the US? And was it difficult to adapt to a new life both on and off the court?

I came to USA through a missionary from my church, that was why I landed at the world most exciting christian University, the Liberty University.
The adaptation was easy, I was finally in the USA doing what I loved. On the court I quickly realized that I was too far behind basketball skill-wise, whereas athletically I was right on point and maybe ahead of almost everyone, so when I made a mistake on one side of the court,  I would make it up on the other side because I was so athletic.
Life was good, I was in a christian school,  so it was a controlled life with lots of rules and regulation, that helped keep us grounded.

Like we said before, you played in so many different places, from Europe to Asia, North and South America, Middle East and, of course, Africa with your NT. If you had the chance to travel back in time for a season, where would you go and play.

My best time was when I played in Russia for CSKA. It was fun - although it was very cold! - because my team was so good we could have given NBA teams a good run for their money: we were so good we spent time playing soccer, not even practicing basketball. We were undefeated in Russian League, and undefeated in European League's home games. We never lost a game in Moscow in the entire season!

Julius, you will turn 40 next year. What are the plans for your future?

Yes, you are right. I am gonna be 40 soon. Well, maybe I have to take a shot of vodka or whisky, a glass of beer, some kind of alcohol for the first time in my life. To tell you the truth, I have not thought of much to do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

"Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story"

On December 9, 1977, during an NBA game between the Lakers and the Houston Rockets, a scuffle broke out between several players at midcourt. Kermit Washington (born September 17, 1951 in Washington, D.C.) punched and nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich, and resulted in in severe medical problems that ultimately ended his playing career. The episode changed the lives and careers of the two players and changed the NBA rules regarding on-court fights. During Washington's playing career - he was drafted fifth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1973 NBA Draft and played for the Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Diego Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors - and after his retirement, he has struggled with the negative perception of him that resulted from that punch.
NBA TV examined Washington's life in the one-hour special "Searching for Redemption: The Kermit Washington Story". Narrated by actor/director Forrest Whitaker, "Searching for Redemption" follows Washington from the playgrounds of Washington, D.C. to the slums of Nairobi, Kenya where he currently works to rebuild lives.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Exclusive interview with Maine Red Claws (NBA D-League) Assistant Coach Hernando Planells: creativity, stats and movies in an intriguing coaching path career!

Hernando Planells is currently the assistant coach for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.  The Red Claws are the official minor league team for the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.  For the past 12 years Coach Hernando has coached at every level. His experiences have also allowed him to choreograph, coordinate and consult on sports action in movies, commercials and print-ads.
Some of his work includes the basketball scenes and the training of the actors on movies such as “Coach Carter” starring Samuel L. Jackson, “The Longest Yard” starring Adam Sandler, “Rebound” starring Martin Lawrence and "Spider-Man 3" starring Tobey Mcguire and others. His production work has also led him to train the athletes of “Extreme Dodgeball”, the highest rated show on the Game Show Network.
Coach “H” has also appeared on on SPIKE TV’s smash hit SLAMBALL as the head coach for the Bouncers . His three year run with the Bouncers saw them qualify for the playoffs while leading the league in scoring.
Besides his work in sports production Coach Hernando works with former NBA Head Coach Don Casey on basketball related projects including the extremely popular blog  The Temple of  Zones.
In 2008 Coach Hernando returned to the United States after serving as Head Coach of the Ryukyu Golden Kings an expansion team that is a part of the BJ League (Basketball Japan). Coach Hernando was responsible for a roster that was the youngest in the league and spent everyday building and instilling a championship attitude and work ethic.
For the 2006/2007 Coach Hernando served as the Head Basketball Coach for The Hollywood Fame, a team that participated in the American Basketball Association. (ABA) Coach Hernando started the season as the assistant coach and Director of Player personnel to former NBA head coach Don Casey. Coach Casey left the Fame in January and Hernando took over leading them to a second place finish in their division and making it to the second round of the playoffs.
During the last three years Coach Hernando has served as a scout for Marty Blake who is the Director of Scouting for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Since 1971, Marty Blake and Associates have provided professional basketball scouting and consulting to the NBA and to clients around the globe. In his role as a scout Coach Hernando puts together scouting reports evaluating NBA prospects which are circulated to every NBA GM and player personnel director. During his time in Japan, Coach Hernando will continue to serve as a scout for Marty Blake, specializing in scouting the Asian countries.
In 2005 Hernando Planells Jr. was named the first Vice President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach in Wyoming Golden Eagle history. At that time 28 year old Hernando Planells was the youngest professional basketball coach in the country.
Prior to scouting, Hernando founded ELITE athlete training which specialized in personal training and consulting services for athletes. Through his work with ELITE, Hernando trained and assisted over a hundred athletes reach their goal of gaining a college scholarship or playing professionally.
From 2003 to 2005 Hernando served as assistant coach in charge of offense for Citrus College, one of the top Community Colleges in the State of California. While at Citrus he assisted the Owls in winning consecutive Tournament titles, post back-to-back winning season in 20 years, guided Citrus to its highest State ranking in school history (6th), established highest single season scoring average at 86ppg and defeated the regular season No. 1 rankedLos Angeles City College and California State Champions, Compton College.
Other coaching stops include the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Head Varsity Coach at Los Angeles High School and Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson, Arizona and as an assistant at Monrovia High School.

Hernando, when did you first know what you wanted to do for a career?

I played all the sports growing up and as I got older coaching become something I was very interested in.  I always wanted to stay involved with basketball and coaching gave me an outlet to stay involved.  No one in my family was a coach but I take the qualities of my parents and from coaches I have met around the world and have been able to learn how to coach, motivate and develop players.  As time goes on I wanted to give myself some coaching goals such as coaching professionally, coaching overseas, coaching a countries National Team – goals have really allowed me to keep my focus…Ive accomplished a few already but have many more to go!
You are young but you have had great experiences so far: high school and college basketball, you have been in Japan... Can you tell our readers a little bit of you and your resume?

I appreciate you telling me im still young!  Coaching can make you feel real old very quickly!  Im 34 now and have been coaching since I was 21.  I ‘ve coached at every level, High School, College and professionally.  I had the distinct pleasure in working with former NBA head coach Don Casey; I was his assistant with the Hollywood Fame in the ABA before he resigned and currently work with him on coaching materials for coaches all over the world.  We run a fairly popular blog The Temple of Zones.
One of my coaching goals was to coach overseas and had a great opportunity to coach in Japan and it was an unbelievable experience.  Coaching in another country is such a unique experience, building a team with Americans and Japanese players was challenging yet enjoyable.  I learned so much while dealing with players and management.  Being half Filipino I had a great honor in helping with the National Team from the Philippines a few years back and that was a great experience personally.
Basketball has opened the doors to other opportunities, I have also coached on the TV sport SLAMBALL

and I also have done the basketball choreography on movies such as Coach Carter, The Longest Yard, Spider-Man 3 and others.  Ive also been able to do numerous commercials and work with some great actors.
I’m now the assistant with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA Development League – we are the official minor league team for the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.  Austin Ainge who is the son of Celtics GM Danny Ainge is our head coach and former Celtics assistant Jon Jennings is the GM – both are quality people and have really made the organization one of the top 2-3 in the league.

Now you are the assistant coach of the Maine Red Claws in the D-League. You've been here for a few weeks, what are your impressions of the team and the guys who are here and are coming?

In my shot time here in Maine I have seen how great our ownership, GM, Head Coach and staff members are.  This is an amazing organization with people who know and understand what it takes to be a great franchise.  We have a very talented and hungry group of players this year – we are young with 7 rookies on the team but the talent is there to win right away.  We have two very good big men in Magnum Rolle and Keith “Tiny” Gallon – both were drafted in the 2010 NBA draft.  Both bring a unique skills set to our team; Magnum is a very good mid-range shooter and knows how to play the game, his basketball IQ is very good for someone who started playing basketball at 16.  Tiny Gallon is young at 19 but is strong and has very good footwork in the post.  On the perimeter, Jamar Smith and Champ Oguchi are two of the better shooters in the league and Mario West (who has played with the Atlanta Hawks) and Paul Harris are two very strong and athletic wings.  Our point guards are Kenny Hayes from Miami of Ohio and Lawrence Westbrook from Minnesota – both are also rookies but are learning quickly.

Speaking of this new group, what do you see as some of their strengths, some of their potential?

The great thing about having a young team is that they are hungry, everyday they come to practice wanting to get better and learn how to be a professional.  Potentially we have the pieces to do very well this year but as with any young team it all depends on how quickly they pick up the information and apply it to the games.

You know international basketball. How do you hope to translate your experiences to Maine?

I’ve been very fortunate to have coached internationally and there are some good coaches in this league who also has international experience, Chris Finch who is the head coach at Rio Grande Valley coached in Europe for years and is now the Great Britain National Team coach.  Nick Nurse also coached in Europe for several years as did Will Voight in Bakersfield .  Those experiences have helped these coaches find success in this league. Although I have had head coaching experience overseas you can never stop learning; and im very fortunate to be working for Austin Ainge, he is an outstanding coach – he grew up around the NBA game and has an understanding of it that very few people have.  My experiences in Japan and in the US and working with athletes have helped me become a more complete coach – overseas or in the other minor leagues in the US you don’t have the resources and you have to find ways to get your players better without video, weight rooms, athletic trainers etc…  I think I have had a very different coaching career path but every opportunity has given me learning experiences that I try to apply everyday!

Switching to off the court, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I don’t get a lot of time off the court but when I do I enjoy spending time with my family… My wife and 2 kids keep me very busy… I enjoy reading and try to read books on leadership and how to bring the best out of people.

Thank you coach for the interview. We just want to know what's your challenge for the future?

You never know what the future can bring, 10 years ago I never imagined having a journey like the one I have had so far - Right now im focused on helping Maine win a D-League Championship and helping our players get better everyday!
Ive been very blessed to have coached and worked with people all over the world – Like any coach you want to continue to move up and make yourself better – I enjoy challenges and im open to any and all of them… 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"If winning isn't everything... Why do they keep score?" Vince Lombardi

“If winning isn’t everything...Why do they keep score?” Inspired by this famous Vince Lombardi’s quote, Basketball Telegraph insider Donte Mathis writes about dealing with winning and losing as a professional player.

One of the best quotes I can remember, dealing with the premise of why we compete was stated by legendary former NFL coach Vince Lombardi.  Lombardi summed it up in a humorous way the motivation that has led to the obsession with winning.  People tend to forget professional sports are a business that operates through investors who have invested in potential outcomes of achievement.  These investments and the responsibilities that come with them trickle down from owners to management, management to staff and staff to players. 

As a professional athlete, years and years of training, visualization and competing are done as way of giving us the best possible opportunity to achieve success.  The higher you move up the scale of competition, the more winning matters.  As a kid we played the game for fun as a way to pass time and as our passion grew, the game became more personal, more emotional with its results being sort of a report card of our dedication and what we put into it.  Some may be more talented than others but you reach a point where everybody peaks in that aspect and decision making separates the winners and the losers. 
Winning makes injuries not hurt so bad, it makes the trip home not so long, as well as the following week very short and bearable.  Losing on the other hand, works at you for all that you could have done but didn’t. Of course you will lose a few before understanding and appreciating the importance of what it takes to win, but one thing is for sure.... you will never get a loss back, it’s yours, chalk it up.  I tend to do things a little differently following a loss.... I try to tweak and work on things differently as a way of flushing it out of my system.  Winning on the other hand, causes me to rethink all the things that may have contributed to my success, things that helped me concentrate and perform at that level that led to the win.  I know a few people can/will say, “What if I played great and we lost,” or “If I played bad and we won”.... all I can say is winning will help you deal with not playing well, you will personally regroup and get it going.... I’ll take the win any day.

Everyone has had their moment on a team where things didn’t go their way or they hit a bad stretch of games where they just couldn’t get it done.  A way to get back on the right track is to rid yourself of any negativity or excuses and take some extra time to work on your game.  If you can commit, concentrate and personally make an effort to make the guy next to you better, it’s a step that will put you in the right direction collectively.  Little details often have the ability to be overlooked and they can be a huge deciding factor in winning versus losing. 
We all may not have the opportunity to be in anybody’s hall of fame, but we will for sure remember the successes and losses that add up over time.  We chase winning because it creates a personal legacy within ourselves.....it makes us feel good.... as well as serving as an opportunity to see the fruits of our labor.  Losing humbles us.... it forces us to evaluate commitment, within ourselves and those around us, and should be used as a tool to seek a better opportunity to win.  In competition.....Winning cures all.