Read the full article from ESPN.com today.
Monday, March 28, 2005 Updated: July 19, 9:50 AM ET
Beijing hoops camp a learning experience
By Ric Bucher ESPN The Magazine
BEIJING — It’s too bad the latest labor pact between NBA owners and players already has been decided, because it doesn’t include a vital element: Mandatory participation for everyone in an overseas basketball camp. If the two sides understood what is to be gained — not just given — in such camps, players and owners alike would agree to such a provision in a heartbeat and be embarrassed for not having thought of it sooner. “If you ever made everyone do one of these camps, at least half would want to do it again,” said Philadelphia 76ers small forward Kyle Korver, who spent July 14-17 here as an instructor in the league’s first Asian Basketball Without Borders camp. “How could you not, after what we saw?”
What he and the rest of the NBA contingent saw, heard and felt on the outskirts of Beijing is what every BWB camper, often for the first time, experiences: How infantile the dream of playing in the NBA truly is. (Put writing or talking about it right there, too.) How utterly meaningless putting a ball through a hoop can be. How there are kids and families who know poverty and heartache at levels well beyond the most bullet-riddled, crack pipe-littered ghetto the U.S. has to offer. How they don’t aspire to have a textbook jump shot, but, believe it or not, a textbook. How, maybe, the 12-year-old boy with no parents or brothers and sisters, who isn’t allowed in school and doesn’t have a single yuan, isn’t the only sad story. Just as sad is the fact that some NBA players actually think they have real problems — at least until they come here. “People stay in one little box and think that’s the way the world is,” says Samuel Dalembert, who asked to do the Asia camp after working last year’s camp in South Africa. “Especially guys in the NBA from the United States. They don’t realize what they have. They don’t know what hardship is. They don’t know how to adapt.”