Former NBA player calls for basketball help
For years Barbadian basketballers have been calling for better playing facilities. And this morning so too did a former professional NBA player.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY this morning, Dale Ellis, a retired shooting guard and small forward for NBA teams including Dallas Mavericks, Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Charlotte Hornets, said he was disappointed with what appeared to be insufficent attention paid to facilities and equipment in Barbados.
In an interview at Kensington Oval after a Press briefing for the inaugural Ballout Coast 2 Coast Camp and the Flow B-ball Youth Summer Tournament, Ellis said that while he was impressed with the level of talented basketballers in the island, attention must also be given to improving where these players practised and played.
He complained specifically about where players were presently practising outdoors on concrete floors to then transition to playing indoors.
“That is the problem . . . playing on that surface is a big disadvantage. I grew up playing on concrete and it is not good for your knees, not good for your ankles. I was fortunate that I didn’t have any real major injuries, other than my back did go out one year due to constant banging on that surface. It is really not good for sports,” the 1987 NBA Most Improved Player said.
As to the equipment, Ellis added that since he came to the island he had noticed that basketballers were playing outdoors with leather basketballs. He added that by the time they took the balls indoors they would then be actually training with rubber balls.
“I don’t know how the Professional Basketballers Alumni (PBA) could engage with the Barbados Government on this matter. Although we are retired basketball players I think we still have a little clout left and I don’t think it would be a problem with the Barbados Government engaging in conversation to deal with it either. Just find out what funds are set aside for sports and allocate some of those funds for basketball, with the equipment as well as facilities, even if it is just cones, training ladders, training equipment . . . and just quality basketballs. The equipment and facility are hindering them,” he said, noting that Spalding USA donated some 30 balls to the campers.
A member of the four-year-old PBA, Ellis said he was hoping his appearance and mentorship of the campers would encourage more youth in Barbados to play the sport. He explained that he was not suggesting that basketball compete with heavyweights like cricket and football, but believed sports in general was a great avenue to create a balance in the lives of many children and expose them to varied opportunities.
“I’m really excited . . . to see the lot of young talent at the camp. I believe that knowledge and wealth is something you share, you cannot take it with you [when you die] and I enjoy giving. I’m convinced my life is going to be about giving and I am content and happy about that. I am happy I am able to. I love being around young people.
“I am the first in my family to get a college degree and that was possible through basketball, so I want to teach the kids how to create that balance. If we find kids with the drive to get into school we are going to help them get into school and train in basketball . . . . The PBA will work with them if they have an aspiration to go to college. It is about mentoring these kids as well, helping them create a balance through athletics and academics whether you are playing cricket, football or basketball,” Ellis said, adding that in 2015 the PBA was hoping to host a week-long sports festival concluding with an exhibition game featuring other former NBA players.