Grizzlies select Ja Morant with 2nd overall pick in 2019 NBA Draft
The Memphis Grizzlies tonight announced that the team selected Murray State University guard Ja Morant (Jah mo-RANT) with the second overall pick in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft.
The Grizzlies will introduce Morant at a press conference at 2 p.m. tomorrow, June 21 in the Grand Lobby of FedExForum. The press conference will be streamed live on Grizzlies.com, through the Memphis Grizzlies mobile app and broadcasted live on FOX Sports Southeast. The event will be open to the public with free parking available in the Gossett Motors Parking Garage. Fans are encouraged to tune into Grizzlies.com before the press conference for a 1:30 p.m. interview with Morant on The Chris Vernon Show. The Grizzlies also will host Food Truck Friday before the press conference from noon-2 p.m. on the FedExForum Plaza.
Named the 2018-19 Lute Olsen National Player of the Year and Bob Cousy Award winner as the nation’s top point guard, Morant (6-3, 175) led Murray State to a 28-5 record and the 2019 Ohio Valley Tournament championship as a sophomore last season. The 19-year-old started all of his 33 games for the Racers last season and averaged 24.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 10.0 assists and 1.76 steals in 36.6 minutes, leading all Division I players in assists and ranking seventh in scoring. Morant became the first player to average at least 20 points and 10 assists in a season since the NCAA officially began counting assists in 1983-84.
The consensus 2018-19 All-America First Team selection guided Murray State to the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament and posted the ninth triple-double in NCAA Tournament history with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists in a first-round victory over Marquette. It marked Morant’s third triple-double of the season, which led all Division I players.
Morant, who shot 49.9 percent from the field, 36.3 percent from three-point range and 81.3 percent from the free throw line, recorded 331 assists in 2018-19, which is the sixth most in NCAA history in a single season. His 18 assists on Jan. 10, 2019 vs. UT Martin were the most by any Division I player last season.
A native of Dalzell, South Carolina, Morant started all of his 65 games over two years at Murray State and averaged 18.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.35 steals in 35.3 minutes.
The Grizzlies Den, a Fanatics Experience will also be open tomorrow with great offers and sales including 25% off select merchandise as well as buy one get one 50% off on select headwear. Grizzlies fans will have the opportunity to be the first to place orders for Ja Morant’s jersey and will also be able to purchase the NBA Draft Hat Collection by New Era, the Official On-Court Headwear of the NBA.
Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase 2019-20 Season Tickets can do so now by calling (901) 888-HOOP or going online to grizzlies.com/tickets. Grizzlies fans who purchase Season Tickets will also receive a free Ja Morant jersey.
BY Memphis Grizzlies /
PUBLISHED June/21/2019 /
Tim Duncan returns home to launch children’s education program, visits with Clintons
ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands – San Antonio Spurs legend Tim Duncan has been a global ambassador for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this weekend he returned home for the start of an early education initiative for children in St. Croix.
Duncan was there to support the implementation of the Yes! Our Kids Can program in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which begins this fall.
The program aims to help every parent and teacher create an expectation of success and prosperity in the minds of every disadvantage child. The ultimate goal is higher education and career readiness.
Duncan said he was approached about the program months ago and when he returned to San Antonio, he and his significant other, Vanessa Macias, discussed bringing the program to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Macias and their daughter, Quill, made the trip to St. Croix with Duncan.
“I was blown away by it. I went home and told Vanessa about it. She said we need to take this program and implement it in the Virgin Islands because it is easy to do and it will have a great impact on the kids, not only for the short term but the long term,” said Duncan. “We’re very excited about it and I know it will do great things for the kids of the Virgin Islands.”
The Tim Duncan Foundation donated $500,000 to support the organization’s mission.
The weekend also included a tour of St. Croix with former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Clintons discussed the island’s Early Head Start program and increasing energy capacity in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of a hurricane that devastated the U.S. territory in 2017.
Duncan has spearheaded numerous funding, philanthropic and relief efforts for the islands after they were struck by Hurricane Maria.
Stacey Plaskett, delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Albert Bryan, the governor of U.S. Virgin Islands, were also in attendance for the day’s events.
This NBA Player Built an Intriguing Investment Fund from Scratch
Between countless flights, 82 games and all the off-the-court obligations that come with an NBA contract, the six-month NBA regular season is a marathon. Add the postseason plus the suddenly busy offseason and one wonders how players manage it all. Twelve-year NBA veteran Thaddeus Young has built a solid NBA career, providing steady leadership and quality play. Young was the heartbeat of the Indiana Pacers this season. The Pacers’ team captain helped steer the team in the right direction after star Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury.
Off the court, Young has kept himself busy. He started a private investment fund, Reform Ventures, a couple of years ago. The fund has invested in companies like DraftKings, Pinterest and SpaceX. Young had been investing for some time individually, but he decided to organize his operation, creating Reform Real Estate Ventures, Reform Business Ventures and a two-court basketball facility named Reform Sports Training.
On top of his business ventures, Young is also pursuing a master’s degree in business at Union Institute and is near the finish line.
“I’ve got four more classes that I’m taking right now,” says Young. “I decided to take the last four and just get them out the way. Hopefully I’ll have [my degree] by the end of the summer.” He somehow manages all this while also being a family man, with a wife and two sons, ages 5 and 8.
Young spoke with ONE37pm about how he developed as a leader in the NBA, how he manages all of his ventures and the art of learning how to say no.
Tell me about your first pitch. How did you decide that you wanted to invest?
Thaddeus Young: The good thing was that I had my business manager at the time and he was really tough. So he was asking all of the hard questions for my first pitch. I’ve been doing my research and just educating myself more and more in the VC field and just [learning] how everything works.
That means looking at cap tables and looking at decks. It means understanding the different documents that I’m looking at—from the convertible notes and the fake notes to just different things that are going on in the VC world to understanding the difference between early-stage, growth-stage and late-stage investments.
Do you feel like you’ve become more adjusted to the process and experience? How has it been taking pitches and meetings on a regular basis?
Young: Now it’s easy, because I know exactly what to look for, and if I don’t know something, I know where to go and get the expertise, where to go tofind the knowledge and who to get it from. One thing is that everything [in a pitch] might sound good, but you have situations where the paperwork is not right or something falls apart during the course of a pitch. It might look good, but that doesn’t always mean it’s good.
If I have the ability to walk away and move on to the next thing, and if that company blows up and makes millions of dollars, then hey, I’m fine with that! I missed my opportunity, I missed my chance. But at the end of the day, I got my lottery ticket already playing in the NBA, making millions of dollars, and I’ve done very well for myself off the court, so it’s not really that big of a deal. I’m just in the investor stage to where I want to see my money make more money for me, and that’s what I’ve been doing so far.
What you said about saying no to someone’s pitch is really interesting. We always hear that it’s difficult for professional athletes to learn how to say no to friends, family and acquaintances. You have to get used to that when you first come into the league. Did that help you early on in your life, being able to learn how to say no to people?
Young: For sure. We make a lot of money, and people just see cold, hard numbers. You get a $50 million payday and they say, “Oh, he got $50 million.” They don’t see that it’s chopped in half because of taxes. They don’t see that you have living expenses, that you have a house and cars, that you have to take care of your wife and kids and all those different things.
For me, I have to get people to understand the difference in all the different aspects of life that I’m going through. I don’t really take too much time to explain it. If it sounds worth talking about, then I’ll talk to you about it, but most of the time I try to get into the habit of just making no, my final answer, as the only answer sometimes. You’ve got to be cold-blooded sometimes, and you’ve got to be tough.
I learned that early. When you give, give, give and you go back and see that you didn’t meet your monthly or annual financial goals, you start tracing through your finances and you see that you gave people in excess of $20,000, $30,000 or something like that over the course of a two-month span.
Then you know that you can’t keep doing that. That’s when you figure out that you can create a fund that you can use to help people. After this fund runs out, then there’s no more. That’s how I try to factor things in. I know people are going to fall on tough times. I know things happen. This will be my little slush fund that I can give away and leave it at that. It’s not for anything else.
Like you mentioned, you have your own private investment fund called Reform Ventures, and you are also taking an organizational leadership class online for your master’s degree in business administration. You’re also an NBA player. You’ve been in the playoffs most of your career, so you’re playing a lot of the time into late April or early May. What’s it like balancing all that at the same time?
Young: It’s tough sometimes. I have two boys, 5 and 8. They’re very active. A wife who’s home now every day. Sometimes she feels like she’s a single mom just because I’m gone so much. But I have a lot of free time on my hands. I’m not one who goes out a lot. With that going-out time or that free time, I can be sitting here taking a class or I can sit here and educate myself a little bit more with certain things I want to do after basketball.
I promised my mom before she passed away from breast cancer that I would get my college degree, and once I did that, I wanted to take it a step further because of some of the different things I wanted to do after basketball. When I walk into the room, I want to be not just an educated guy but a well-educated guy. And I don’t want to be just a qualified guy, I want to be an overqualified guy. That’s my firm belief in everything I decide to do, not just basketball—whether it’s going into a front office position or doing something around basketball, being one of the guys on television picking apart other people’s games or just chilling at home, working on my investments and real estate.
One of the moments that stuck out this season was when Victor Oladipo suffered his season-ending injury and you had probably one of your best performances of the season. You put up 23 points and 15 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors, and it came to define the Pacers season as a team that fights despite injuries. You took a leadership position with the team, and you went into the huddle right after Oladipo was carted off and you gave a message to your team. Everyone responded well and you won that game.
How did you develop your leadership skills coming into the NBA as a rookie? How does that process work where you feel confident and comfortable to lead?
Young: It’s definitely a growing process. I started in the league when I was just turning 19 years old. Seven days after my 19th birthday, I was drafted. Just watching guys as I was coming up, the luxuries of playing with a lot of different guys throughout the course of my career. I started off with Andre Miller, who was a phenomenal leader. Very quiet, but he knew how to lead and speak when those moments came. All-out tough guy when it comes to guys I was playing with: Reggie Evans. He didn’t score very many points, but he grabbed a lot of rebounds and his leadership was amazing. Theo Ratliff, Donyell Marshall, Elton Brand and a guy who’s winning championships right now, Andre Iguodala.
Those guys were very pivotal for me as a player. Then some older guys like Kevin Ollie. They helped show me how to lead, how to play the game. In these last couple of years in playing for the Pacers, each and every year I feel like I got better with the team, simply because of the leadership role that they were asking of me and me going out there and understanding how to play the game and playing with younger guys, teaching and showing them how we need to play in order to win. And getting them to believe in the team concept. One of the biggest things for us has always been the team concept. People counted us out, but I told [my teammates] all the time, ‘Everybody doesn’t need to be a hero.’ We can be a hero in our own sense, but when you think about it and look at all of these different movies with all these different heroes, even the best heroes still needed help.
All the heroes had to come together at some point. That’s why you have Justice League and Avengers and all those different characters. Batman had a Robin. All the heroes had to come together and form an alliance where they could come in and get rid of the villain.
This offseason, you’ve already started participating in the NBA’s Job Shadow Program. You got to go down to Atlanta and see TNT and NBATV’s studio broadcasts. What was that experience like, and are you interested in broadcasting down the road?
Young: Yes. Now, when I first got there that morning, the guy leading the program asked us to introduce ourselves and tell everybody what we were there for. I was just there initially to see how everything worked. I had no aspirations of being a broadcaster or an analyst, and then it shifted halfway through the program.
You see how those guys prepare to go on camera, the meetings that they were having, how everything works behind the camera, the teleprompter, how everything is set up, how everything is on queue, how you have to look at each and every situation. Then I got a chance to actually go on camera and explain situational basketball with Mike Fratello and Grant Hill. It was an eye-opening experience. And then I got to see Kenny [Smith], Ernie [Johnson], Shaq [O’Neal] and Charles [Barkley] and I saw how that chemistry was on air [on Inside the NBA], how they all gel together and how they work and feed off of each other’s energy.
It changed my perspective about doing the analyst thing. It was an amazing program. The only thing I would say they need to do is give us a nap in the middle of the day. We were there from nine in the morning to nine at night.
So you’re entering free agency this summer and you’ve gone through it before. Four years ago you re-signed with Brooklyn on a four-year deal. Is the experience as nerve-wracking as people expect it to be?
Young: Four years ago, I was a little bit younger and I had already been offered an extension by Minnesota before I even got to Brooklyn—in a mid-season trade for Kevin Garnett—and I turned it down. I knew what the market was, I knew I was going to get another paycheck, I knew that I could potentially make more with Brooklyn if I made the playoffs, and I did end up getting more money than I did with what the Wolves offered me in Minnesota. And I was very comfortable in understanding each and every thing that was going on, and I knew free agency wasn’t going to last long for me.
But now, I’m 30 going on 31. I wouldn’t say it’s nerve-wracking. The only nerve-wracking part is knowing if you’re going to go back to your previous team or you’re going to switch teams. You have to move your family. I think I had a very good season this year. I think I did very well with helping lead my team. I think GMs and teams around the league understand who I am as a person, who I am as a player, my leadership and my value being brought to any franchise or organization that would offer me a contract.
Right now, I’m in a great space. I’m hanging out with my wife and kids. I’m not really even worried about the free agency situation. To tell you the truth, I haven’t even really thought about it. I’ll think about it when July 1st comes or when June 30th hits. But at the end of the day, I’m comfortable. I don’t think I should be worried, but I’m very happy with the season I played. It’s not as nerve-wracking as most people think it seems. Not for me at least.
What are you looking forward to the most in your future post-playing career years from now?
Young: I know one of the biggest things is my kids will probably be middle school or high school [by the time I retire], so it will be a great chance to connect with them through sports and going to see their games, because they love basketball now. So just going to their games and being able to go and hang out with them.
Spending a lot of time with my wife is another. One of the biggest factors in anything I’m going to be doing with my next contract is my family. The biggest things I’m looking forward to are sitting back and relaxing, enjoying my wife and kids, and just enjoying life. You spend so much time playing in the league—it’s a lot of wear and tear on your body and it hurts sometimes. At the end of the day, you know what you’re doing it for: the love and the passion for the game, and taking care of your family and living a great life after you’re done.
Also, definitely traveling the world and going sight-seeing everywhere. But just hanging out with my wife and kids will be the biggest part.
Have you found other guys around the NBA or around your team who talk about investing?
Young: A lot of my teammates started to figure out in the last couple of years that I do a lot of investing. I have a lot of conversations with different people on my team. Darren Collison and I talk all the time. Cory Joseph—he actually said that he needs to take a visit and sit with me and my people for a day. I told him that I’m fine with that. Myles Turner is another teammate I’ve talked to about that. A lot of different guys.
And there are some guys on other teams too. They’ll hit me up and ask me about some different things that I’m involved with. I think some of the top investors in the league that people don’t know about would be me, Anthony Tolliver and Trevor Booker. He’s been doing a really good job. Obviously,everybody knows what Andre Iguodala is doing in the VC world, with him being out in Golden State with Steph [Curry] and those guys. He and I have conversations all the time about different investments and investment strategies. It’s a lot of different guys getting into this tech industry and getting into this VC world.
Some guys have very impressive portfolios, and that’s all I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make some profits and gain some more insight each and every day and become one of the best at this VC game. There’s a lot of money being tossed around, and there’s a lot of money to be made through your investments and through having a solid team. I’ve done that. I think I’ve built a solid team of professionals.
BY Rafael Canton /
PUBLISHED May/28/2019 /
Ja Morant isn’t used to being in the spotlight. It’s something that’s been a foreign language he’s getting accustomed to every day. It could be the fans asking for autographs and photos; reporters submitting interview requests for soundbites; or his social media buzzing as his follower count increases with each minute that passes by.
“It’s been tough,” he says, admitting the notoriety has been challenging. “I’m not used to being out there a lot. I’m used to just going to hoop where nobody knows me.”
He refers to the fame as “paparazzi-type stuff,” but knows this comes with the territory when you’re a household name. When asked if he remembers getting a glimpse of the spotlight, he’ll direct you to last November.
“Probably after the Alabama game,” he says. “I had almost 40 and a dunk that went viral. Social media just went crazy.”
Morant actually had 38 points. And the viral dunk he mentions came in the second half against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. He received an inbounds pass, dribbled in the open court en route to the rim, and took off from inside the paint for a tomahawk dunk as five white jerseys surrounded him. An aerial angle shows the defender closest to the rim crouching immediately after jumping to avoid getting put on a poster. The dunk was on loop from just about every major sports media outlet. Then, going viral became the norm.
In January, he obliterated Quintin Dove, a 6-8 forward from UT-Martin. Morant was on the wing, went backdoor as his defender overplayed the passing lane, took one dribble and gathered, as his 6-3, 175-pound frame soared over Dove outside the block, causing a ruckus throughout the arena. The play was No. 1 on SportsCenter. There was another tomahawk against Eastern Illinois a week later.
Soon after, the world knew more about Morant every time he stepped on the floor. He said Allen Iverson reached out, admiring his toughness. Kevin Durant called him his favorite college basketball player on a podcast and others followed suit.
Morant stuffed stat sheets on a nightly basis—24.5 ppg, 10.0 apg and 5.7 rpg while shooting close to 40 percent from behind the arc. He became the first player to average 20 and 10 in a season since the NCAA began to recognize assists in 1983-84. He also ranked in the top-10 in points, assists (331) and double-doubles (20).
His 40 points, 11 assists and 5 steals against SIU-Edwardsville made him the first Division I player with that stat line. Twenty-one of those 40 came from the charity stripe, establishing an Ohio Valley Conference single-season record to become the first player with 20-plus consecutive made free throws. He played an integral role in the Racers’ 28-5 overall record and earned OVC POY and tournament MVP honors. And to cap off his sophomore season, Morant was presented the prestigious Bob Cousy Award and had one of the best individual March Madness performances.
Scouts and draft analysts were infatuated over his athleticism and ambidexterity. A dual threat, his playing style was dissected to a T. He could score from all three levels and, in the open court, the way he attacked the rim drew comparisons to Russell Westbrook. The handle, which was a nightmare for opponents, was stellar and his playmaking—how he could orchestrate an offense and zip passes with his off-hand—was that of an elite NBA point guard.
“My favorite thing to do [is] just share the ball with my teammates,” he says. “I’m giving them easy looks to build their confidence. I feel like if they start off with high confidence and having fun, then we’re a way better team.”
Morant was proclaimed as a top-3 pick in mock drafts. He suddenly went from one of college basketball’s best-kept secrets to the most-talked about draft prospect not named Zion Williamson.
But all this recognition wasn’t there for him just a few years ago. Morant, who hails from Dalzell, SC, a town with a population of under 3,000, was an unranked player from a small town craving college interest on the hardwood.
He was once teammates with Williamson on the South Carolina Hornets, a local travel ball program, during high school. On a team that had a player with NBA-caliber potential, Morant was in the shadows looking to prove he belonged.
As time passed, he became skeptical. With peers receiving college interest, Morant questioned his athletic ability.
“I used to doubt myself a lot,” he says. “My mom and dad always preached to keep working. My mom told me I was beneath no one and my dad told me that I was trained to go. I used those words as fuel to my fire.”
Ja’s father Tee set the blueprint. Tee starred at Hillcrest HS in Sumter County (SC) and won a state championship alongside Ray Allen in the early ’90s. He then played at Claflin University, a Division II in Orangeburg, SC, followed by a stint overseas. When Tee’s primary focus was teaching Ja the game, he prioritized one thing: fundamentals.
There was no state-of-the-art facility, cameraman or purposeless props—only a basketball and a slab of concrete in the family’s backyard with the countryside humidity. Tee’s drills consisted of skill work and plyometrics for roughly two hours a day. After every drill, Ja jumped on tractor tires 25 times—eventually extending to 50 when it became easy.
“They was tough,” Ja says. “I know most people now fall in love with the fancy part of the game thinking they gotta have a trainer to get better, but my dad preached that I didn’t need any of those things.”
Before Ja was a teenager, Tee realized he was unlike other children in his age group. Ja’s feel for the game was clear against older competition.
“I noticed his IQ,” Tee says. “Having a basketball background, I knew what I had to do to make him effective on the court. I knew he was special around 11, 12.”
Another one of Tee’s plans was to build his son up mentally. Ja, who calls Tee his “biggest hater,” was always looking for validation after a good game. It never came. Instead, his father’s criticisms taught Ja to be resilient and never complacent with his game.
“I was the one saying, ‘You’re overrated,’ because I refused to give him the stamp of approval because he started to work hard,” Tee says. “I could tell he was looking for that, but I had to fight it off because he was playing very well.
“He was always looking for the perfect grade, and that was my way for continuing to motivate him. I always told him he ain’t do nothing ’til he reached his dream of playing under the big lights.”
“I’d say my 8th, 9th grade year is when I finally began to realize what he was actually doing—preparing me,” Ja says.
During the summer of his junior year, Morant attended Chandler Parsons’ basketball camp in Spartanburg, SC. A late addition, Morant’s name wasn’t on the camp roster, and he was placed in an auxiliary gym.
This is where Murray State head coach Matt McMahon first heard about Ja Morant. McMahon received a call from then-assistant coach James Kane about a player he stumbled across by accident.
Kane was scouting Tevin Brown, a small forward from Alabama, when he went to the concession stand and saw Morant, an incoming senior playing 3-on-3. Kane immediately called McMahon, urging him to make the trek to Spartanburg to see this camper, who, according to Kane, had all the pro intangibles.
“You could see it right away when we watched him play that summer—just his ability from an athleticism and explosive standpoint,” McMahon says. “We started to see his ability to find people on the court, his court vision and feel for the game.”
A scholarship offer followed after Morant scored 36 points against Brown’s team the following day. McMahon made it a priority to steer Morant to Murray State that summer. South Carolina’s Frank Martin was also interested in Morant, hoping he could sway him to stay home, but Morant had committed to the Racers on his official visit.
“It was just like home, and everybody’s family down there,” he says. “That was one of the reasons that I committed.”
If there’s one thing Tee knows about Ja, it’s that he’s never been one to duck smoke on the court, as was evident against Marquette in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It was Ja Morant versus Markus Howard, two of college basketball’s premier playmakers, taking center stage.
Ja ruled the entire game, leading the 12-seeded Racers to an 83-64 upset win and finishing with 17 points, 16 assists and 11 rebounds, becoming the eighth player in NCAA history to finish with a triple-double and first since Draymond Green in 2012. His full repertoire was on display no matter the defensive schemes the Golden Eagles threw at him.
He scored or assisted on 55 points—the most points created by a player in the past 10 NCAA tournaments—and his 16 dimes were second-most in the tournament since UNLV’s Mark Wade’s 18 in ’87.
“Ja is fearless when it comes to competition,” Tee says. “To come out of there with a triple-double and the victory wasn’t surprising to me.”
It’s a Monday afternoon and Ja has walked into a ballroom for his first-ever SLAM cover shoot at the Legacy Hotel on the campus of IMG Academy. He comes off coy until Lil Baby blares out the speakers. He begins to recite lyrics while posing for the photos you see on this page.
“Most of the top players get this, so for me to have this opportunity to be on it is an honor,” Ja says on making his first cover. “It’s a check off my bucket list.”
For the past two weeks, he’s been doing his pre-draft training at IMG. He also spent time in the gym with Allen as the soon-to-be-rookie prepares to begin his pro career. The most important piece of advice the HOFer has passed along beside shooting tips is maintaining a healthy diet to sustain the rigors of an 82-game season.
Ja says hearing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver call his name on draft night hasn’t hit him yet, but he’s definitely thought about it. When he does, he’ll be one of two players to be selected from South Carolina and first from a mid-major since Derrick Rose (Memphis) in 2008.
“I’m so proud of the kid,” Tee says, envisioning the moment, while watching Ja from afar. “He’s showing other kids that with maximum effort, you can reach your dream. It’d be evident when he goes across the stage, and I’d be the proudest father in the world.”
Whichever city Ja Morant ends up in, there’ll be a spotlight. So he better get used to it.
BY Drew Ruiz /
PUBLISHED May/14/2019 /
GERALD HENDERSON JR. ON RETIRING YOUNG, PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
Basketball is literally in Gerald Henderson Jr.’s blood. His father, Gerald Sr., won three championships during his 13 seasons in the NBA. In a family like that, Junior was constantly surrounded by the sport.
Gerald Jr., though, won’t be around the NBA as a player anymore. After suffering season-ending injuries, undergoing multiple surgeries and countless rehab and physical therapy sessions, he is officially ending his career after eight seasons.
Though hanging up his jersey wasn’t in his plans just yet, Gerald now speaks eagerly about the big ideas he has for his future. While basketball has always played an integral role in his life, he makes one thing clear: it does not define him.
On May 4, the 2006 McDonald’s All-American and 2009 draft lottery pick will be inducted into his high school’s Hall of Fame. Before he went back to Merion, Pennsylvania, for the ceremony at Episcopal Academy, Gerald opened up to CloseUp360 about his career and off-the-court impact, and what it’s like as a young player to sustain devastating injuries and have to hang it up in his prime.
This is Gerald Henderson Jr.’s journey, in his own words, edited for clarity and length.
As a player, it’s hard to see into the future because you’ve always played. You’ve never not played. So you don’t really see yourself in a situation where you’re just not playing. You don’t even know what that feels like unless you’re injured or spend a little time out.
Ever since I was little, I’ve always played basketball and probably started because of my dad. I was four or five years old when he retired, and he played for 13 years, won three NBA championships—two with the Celtics and one towards the end of his career with the “Bad Boy” Pistons. He had a crazy career.
But he’s always somebody I’ve looked up to and for sure in a basketball sense. He was always my first coach. I learned everything growing up from him. Even in high school, college and in the pros, just him being there for advice, whether it be watching film together through text messages or whatever.
I always thought that I would play as long as he played. That’s not going to happen for me.
The big thing is my injuries. I’ve had six surgeries since 2008. Wrist surgery. Hip surgeries. Achilles surgery. They piled up, among other injuries that haven’t needed surgery. They just kind of accumulated and made it very difficult to play and to play healthy, to put everything into actual basketball.
It became more just making sure that I could get out there on the court, as opposed to really working on my game, spending time on my game and developing myself. I’ve spent years working on my body—which, as an athlete, you have to do. It became less about maintenance. Instead, the game became rehab and physical therapy.
Last summer, coming back from my third hip surgery, I had a resurfacing procedure done where they actually put some metal in my hip. It’s a new procedure. It’s not a hip replacement, but they put a little cap and ball in there for you. Tennis player Andy Murray just got it done. Hockey players actually have played with them. It’s a procedure that they felt like I could go back and play. And so I said, “Okay, well, it’s my last shot to do it. Why not do it?”
So I got myself back to really good form. And I was a couple of weeks away from training camp. Actually, my wife, Nilou, and I got married last summer and didn’t go on a honeymoon because I was training, and was right in the middle of working out for teams.
It was September 2018 and I was out at Golden State. I was feeling great. I had a few really good days out there. Then I was just playing pickup, just a routine play, just cutting down the lane, and my Achilles snapped right in half.
With a torn Achilles, I could have tried to come back and still play. But immediately, I was just was, like, I’ve had enough, because the process of surgery, which a lot of athletes know, it’s painstaking.
It takes time and you go through a lot of pain. You go through a lot of stress and mental pain and frustration—all that stuff. And I’ve been through a good amount of it with the amount of surgeries that I’ve had, especially coming back and the way that I did from the hip surgery. It was a big hit for me. So it’s not that I didn’t feel like I could come back, but it just wasn’t worth it to me.
I kind of prepared myself for it last year, and even the year before that, because I knew how terrible my hip felt my last year playing. But before my last season in 2016, Philly gave me an offer that I really could not ignore compared to the other offers that I had. I was a free agent. This was the summer of ‘16. I knew where the health of my hip was. It was really bad and knew that I probably couldn’t play that much longer in the kind of pain that I was in. So I prepared myself from there on to not play and made that a reality.
I tried to give it that last shot after I got my third surgery. But I always keep things in perspective.
Basketball is just a part of who I am. It’s not who I am. It’s a piece of me.
I’ve learned so many things from the game. There’s always been more to life than basketball. And for me, going forward, there’s tons of life left. At 31 right now, I’d only be playing for so much longer. I’m retiring kind of early for what one would think would be a long NBA career, whether it’s 12, 13 years, whatever that is. But the average is probably around three, four years.
My parents have been great for me in the aspect of retiring from basketball because my dad has gone through this process before and my mom as well, being the wife of a player. They’re preparing me in terms of making sure I’m saving my money and making sure I have some other interests as well, because once you stop playing, you get tons of time on your hands. You’re going to want to have a hobby or pick up another business.
I’ll definitely be playing a bunch of golf. I played in a ton of celebrity charity tournaments. When I was younger, probably from about age 11 to about 14, I was a junior golfer. I picked up the game of golf really young and got really good at it. I was a scratch golfer, but decided at 14, 15 years old that basketball is what I wanted to put all my time into. But one thing me and my dad share for sure is golf and playing all the time and playing matches, which is always fun. He was just down here and we were playing.
Being home has definitely been different. It’s different because when you’re playing, at least during the season, you’re there half the time, so you get kind of used to that. You miss out on a lot of things for your kids that you wish you were at. But you kind of get used to the travel and being away.
But these last two years have been the complete opposite of that. It’s still a tough transition because, instead of being out on the road doing my thing and kind of just checking in, now I’m all the way in. I’m taking my kids to school, picking them up, taking them to gymnastics class. I’m checking homework—all stuff that, if I was playing, that would be spontaneous, like if I could do it, I could do it. It really wasn’t expected of me.
But as you keep doing it, it’s fun. You get to really be involved and see how your kids are changing. You get to put your imprint on their development a bit more. I’ve enjoyed that for sure. It’s definitely a change. Every day’s not always roses and daisies, but it’s fun.
I really love being a dad.
We always throw the ball around. They like playing basketball out in the driveway and stuff. I got two little girls, Roya and Zara. They’re more into gymnastics and cheerleading. I wouldn’t put any pressure on them to play basketball. I’d put it in front of them, and see how they liked it and see if they wanted to pursue it. But at this age and even as they get older, to me, it’s all about them having fun with it and just learning to love the game. I wouldn’t have them take it too serious. Over time, if they got a passion for it and love to do it, then that’s what you got to build first. But I’d love for them to play basketball. If not, I’d love for them to just do whatever they wanted to do.
I also have real ambitions to jump into real estate. I’ve always been into real estate investment and real estate development. The design intrigues me, building really intrigues me—even the art inside a home. I have a few nice art pieces, including “My Favorite Days Require Sunglasses” by Kimber Berry. I also collect classic movie posters.
My wife’s a real estate agent, my mom and dad are both real estate agents, so something in that niche is in my future. I’ve already kind of started on some things—flipping houses in Charlotte here. The market is really booming here, tons of development going on around the entire city. I know the city pretty well. I’ve lived here for the last 10 years. I’m from Philly originally, but as I’ve been down in North Carolina, going to Duke for three years, I’ve been here in North Carolina for 13 years. It’s been my home for almost half of my life now.
I have some charity stuff, too. This will be the sixth year of my golf tournament, the Gerald Henderson Charity Golf Invitational. I’ve had it in Charlotte and Philly. It’s benefited a few different charities along the way, including the Community Partnership School’s Scholarship Fund. I’m real ambitious to help kids that just don’t have the opportunities that maybe I had growing up.
I had a father who played in the NBA for 13 years. I grew up in a great family, stable family with great role models and I had great opportunities. I had to put the work in. That was my big thing. I had to learn how to work and make some stuff happen, but I was put in a position to do it. It was laid out for me, so the work was the big thing, whereas it’s not as easy for everyone as it was for me. My stage was kind of set. And all I had to do was work my ass off to get here.
Whereas, some people, they don’t have both parents, they don’t have some of the financial backing that it may take to go to private school and get the kind of education that I had. They just don’t have those kinds of resources.
Then, this Hornets broadcasting opportunity came to me in January. I’ve done a little bit of broadcasting in the past. I did the pre- and post-game show for FOX Sports Southeast and it was perfect for me. I’m really learning about it and I think I have a career in that going forward, if I choose to do that. And I learned a lot this year from everybody there.
Broadcasting, it’s a fun thing. I get to still be around basketball and talk basketball. The Hornets have been a team that I was there for six years, so I know everybody there. My real good buddy, Kemba Walker, who was in my wedding, I got to see him play all season and that was fun. And it was his best year, so that was fun to watch.
I’ve built so many friendships through the game—from teammates, competitors, coaches, GMs, owners, just everything. And I would advise guys to network not just with your teammates, but everybody else that you work with—even a support staff and trainers. I mean, I probably got better relationships with trainers than anybody else because I’ve spent so much time with them.
But build those relationships, especially some of the people higher up—owners and GMs and coaches—because you never know when your career’s going to be over with and what you may want to do next. A lot of guys jump into the business side of basketball. Some guys, it’s harder than others because they don’t have any relationships built over time.
I’m a part-owner of a company called Active Dreamers. It’s an NBA-licensed bedding and pillow company. We’re expanding a little bit, doing a few other things now, but the CEO of it, his name’s Jack McClinton. We played against each other in college. He went to Miami. We were able a have a sit-down meeting with one of the 76ers’ owners, Michael Rubin, who’s become a buddy of mine. He’s the head at Fanatics and our product is on his site now.
He’s opened up some other avenues for us, and I was able to do that just from my time with the Sixers and just getting to know him a little bit. And that’s completely non-basketball related. So build those relationships. Everybody you see around that front row at those games is doing something, you know? Build those relationships and have hobbies.
Everybody’s different. Everybody’s got a different past. Everybody’s got different minds. Everybody’s got different ambitions. Everybody’s got different options. I couldn’t make a decision for somebody else, but I would tell them do what you want. There’s no perfect decision that you’re going to make. The perfect decision is the decision that you make.
For me, I’m a strong believer in God. I really am. And I know that this is a path that’s been designed for me. I’m just myself, and God’s got his vision and ideas for everybody. So I don’t ever question what’s written.
This was not my original plan. My dad played in the NBA for 13 years. I thought that I would do that or more. But you find out in life that your plan is not the plan. For me, it’s all what God sets in your plan. So, I’m secure in that because at the end of the day, it’s already written.
It really ain’t all about basketball. There’s a bigger plan there that basketball is just a part of.
BY Magdalena Munao /
PUBLISHED April/30/2019 /
UNC Forward Luke Maye Selects Tandem Sports + Entertainment For Full-Service Representation
Arlington, VA, April 25, 2019 – Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed UNC forward Luke Maye for full-service representation for his NBA career. Maye will be represented by Tandem President Jim Tanner and Director of Athlete + Talent Representation Matt Laczkowski. Tandem will handle all contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships and community relations initiatives for Maye.
Maye played four years at UNC, including as a member of the 2017 NCAA Championship team. He hit the game winning jumper in the Elite 8 game against Kentucky en route to the Tar Heels’ championship. Maye received tremendous accolades throughout his time at UNC, including AP All-American Third Team honors (2018), Academic All-American Second Team honors (2018, 2019), All-ACC First Team honors (2018) and All-ACC Second Team honors (2019).
Maye finished his senior season as the ACC’s second leading rebounder. He averaged a double-double for his second consecutive year with 14.9 PPG and 10.5 RPG. Maye received the prestigious Skip Prosser Award, recognizing the ACC’s top scholar-athlete in men’s basketball. He also received the honor in 2018 and is the third player in ACC history to receive it twice.
“As a four-year Tar Heel, Luke is a mature and experienced player,” Tanner said. “He grew throughout his time at Carolina, and we’re excited to see how he continues to grow and improve at the next level. We look forward to positioning him for success and getting him in front of the right teams to highlight his skills and leadership.”
ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
In addition to Luke Maye, Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, Ja Morant, Justin Jackson, Jarrett Allen, Michael Beasley, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, Dominique Wilkins, Alana Beard and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young and three-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt. Tandem has also provided communications services for and authors Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”) and Lori Leachman (“The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen”).
BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment /
PUBLISHED April/25/2019 /
Murray State Star Ja Morant Selects Tandem Sports + Entertainment for Full-Service Representation
Morant has also hired Orin Mayers of OM Management as his business manager.
Arlington, VA, April 3, 2019 – Tandem Sports + Entertainment has signed projected top-two pick Ja Morant from Murray State University for full-service representation for the NBA Draft and throughout his basketball career. Morant will be represented by Tandem president, Jim Tanner. Tandem will handle contractual agreements, personal appearances, public relations services, corporate partnerships and community relations initiatives for the NBA Draft prospect.
Morant has also hired Orin Mayers, president of OM Management, as his business manager. Tandem and Mayers have a successful similar relationship with Basketball Hall of Famer Ray Allen, and continue to collaborate on Allen’s business initiatives. In addition to his experience as a business manager, Mayers worked with the Milwaukee Bucks for nine years in a number of roles including sales, promotions, marketing, and player programs.
Morant enters this summer’s NBA Draft as a highly sought-after prospect following an extremely successful sophomore campaign at Murray State. He led the Racers to the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) Tournament championship, which punched the team’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament. In Murray State’s first round win over Marquette, Morant became the 12th player in NCAA Tournament history to record a triple-double, and the 8th to do so with points, assists and rebounds (17 points, 16 assists, 11 rebounds). The Racers faced Florida State in the second round and despite a loss, Morant finished the season as the Racers’ all-time assists leader (532) and single season scoring leader (808). He also ends his season as the first player in Division I history to average 20 points and 10 assists.
The 2019 OVC Player of the Year is the first Division I player in 20 years to record 40 points, 11 assists and five steals in a regulation game (1/19/19 vs. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville). He earned All-OVC First Team honors both his freshman and sophomore years.
“Ja is an incredibly talented basketball player and a future NBA All-Star,” Tanner said. “But what impresses us the most is his professionalism, maturity and engaging personality. It is with great pleasure that we welcome Ja and his family to the Tandem team. We are excited to work with Ja and look forward to putting him in position for a long and successful career on and off the court.”
“Ja is a bright, talented, high character young man,” Mayers said. “I marvel at his poise, confidence and tremendous abilities on the basketball court. He has a bright future as he begins his journey as a professional basketball player in the NBA. I am honored to be a part of Team Morant, and I am looking forward to assisting Ja with his goals and endeavors.”
ABOUT TANDEM SPORTS + ENTERTAINMENT
In addition to Ja Morant, Tandem’s roster of clients includes Tim Duncan, Jeremy Lin, Grant Hill, Ray Allen, Justin Jackson, Jarrett Allen, Michael Beasley, John Henson, Brandan Wright, Thaddeus Young, Marvin Williams, Gerald Henderson, Raymond Felton, Dominique Wilkins, Alana Beard and Tamika Catchings. Marketing and public relations clients include World Series champion pitcher Chris Young and three-time Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merritt. Tandem has also provided communications services for and authors Jon Pessah (“THE GAME: Inside the Secret World of Major League Baseball’s Power Brokers”) and Lori Leachman (“The King of Halloween and Miss Firecracker Queen”).
BY Tandem Sports + Entertainment /
PUBLISHED April/3/2019 /
Hawks’ Jeremy Lin Supports Cincinnati Teenagers in Fight Against Racism, Bullying
It was another busy Saturday night for Jeremy Lin. The Atlanta Hawks guard had dinner plans lined up, and another friend in town to entertain.
But first, he had a stop to make at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant on Ashwood Parkway.
Jeremy could’ve waited until the next day, when the Hawks hosted the Milwaukee Bucks at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, to meet Nathan Stockman and Bobby Jefferson II. But given how hectic game days can get—and how diligent Jeremy is about his routine—he wanted to make sure he got some quality time with the two teenagers from Cincinnati, whose pain and triumph he knew all too well.
“For me, it’s a little bit difficult seeing them before or after the game because you can be so focused or fixated, or the game just ended or you’re at the arena and there’s just so many people and it can get so busy,” Jeremy tells CloseUp360. “So I wanted to really properly meet them and their families, and just have more of a chance to dialogue.”
Nathan and Bobby had plenty to talk about with Jeremy. Though their conversation was casual, with video games and basketball at the fore, the young men were there because of the bigotry and hate they had faced on the court back home—much like the kind that Jeremy had encountered himself on his way to the NBA.
Nathan and Bobby were more than teammates and classmates at St. Xavier High School, known in Cincinnati as St. X. For two years, from the start of football training camp in June until the end of basketball season in March, they spent almost every day together, forging a friendship as teammates on the gridiron and the hardwood.
“Bobby was kind of a bigger brother to me,” says Nathan, who was a grade below Bobby.
They both knew what it was like to stand out at a predominantly white Catholic school. Nathan was the only Asian-American on the basketball team. His mom, Susan, was adopted at birth from South Korea.
Bobby, meanwhile, was the only African-American on the squad.
Yet, even in Cincinnati, a city that’s come under fire of late for the prevalence of prejudice within its limits, Nathan and Bobby, by and large, had not encountered much overt bigotry while growing up there.
“I would say, I’ve been a pretty sheltered kid my whole life,” Bobby says.
That bubble began to deflate in December 2017, during a 56-55 win at Oak Hills High School. Whenever Nathan, then a junior, found himself in front of the Oak Hills student section, he could hear unnerving comments coming from a few hecklers in the crowd. Bobby could hear them, too.
You missed your shot because you can’t see, they said. This is the USA. Go back to China.
But officials in the building didn’t pay it much mind. Neither did Nathan.
“I just laughed at them,” he says. “I was like, if you have to go that far just to try to get to my head, that shows a lot of what you are. So I was like, I’m not going to let these few guys just destroy me over what I am. I’m proud of who I am and I’m not going to be ashamed of it ever.”
Then in February 2018, Nathan and Bobby once again found themselves in hostile territory in West Cincinnati. Two weeks after ending a five-year drought in the Greater Catholic League with an overtime buzzer-beater at home against Elder High School, St. X faced a revenge-minded Panthers squad—along with its salty supporters—on the road.
The atmosphere at Elder was tense, even before Nathan and Bobby took the floor with the Bombers. After exiting the tunnel—which both teams shared—Bobby, basketball in hand, heard an unfamiliar voice calling him from behind.
“Move out of the way,” the voice yelled.
“For what?” Bobby replied. He turned around to find a white uniformed police officer.
“I stood my ground and I started laughing because I’m like, this has to be a joke,” Bobby says. “Me and my teammates around me who witnessed it, we all thought it was a joke.”
But to the cop, that response was no laughing matter. As Bobby recalls, the officer then slapped the ball out of his hands and scolded him.
“You should learn a little respect,” the policeman said condescendingly. “I know it’s hard for you, though.”
“When that happened, I kind of looked around,” Nathan says. “I was like, does anyone else see this? Because I see it all over social media. I couldn’t believe my eyes when it happened in front of me, and the police officer had the audacity to say that to Bobby and get in his face.”
That’s when Nathan, Bobby and their teammates knew this would be no ordinary high school basketball game.
The taunts started early and came often from hecklers in the student section.
P.F. Chang’s, they said. 10 can’t see. 10 plays chess.
“I guess a stereotype of Asians is we play chess,” says Nathan, who was the only Asian-American on the court that day. “I didn’t really understand that one.”
Bobby, the lone African-American to play in the game, was bombarded by his own barrage of racially charged barbs.
Bobby sells crack, they said. Bobby smokes meth. Bobby’s on welfare. Bobby can’t read.
“If they had just done a little homework, they would have known that I obviously can read because I’m going to an Ivy League school,” says Bobby, who’s now a freshman on the football team at Dartmouth College.
But these weren’t just stray strains of hatred from a few ignorant fans, like the ones at Oak Hills. Rather, these were coordinated chants carried by the vast majority of Elder’s student section, regardless of race.
“The fact that the African-Americans were able to chant this stuff at Bobby and not do anything about it blew me away,” Nathan says.
Elder’s players, coaches and officials let it stand, as well. So, too, did the referees.
St. X’s student section did its part to support its squad with competing chants of “You are racist” at Elder’s offenders.
“Then the Elder student section came back at our student section,” Bobby recounts, “saying, ‘You guys are f******.’”
“At the moment, I didn’t really think much of it,” Nathan says, “because when I’m playing, I’m not focusing really on the student section or anything.”
Bobby, though, couldn’t stay quiet amid that antagonism. When he subbed out to join Nathan on the bench, he came off the court yelling at then-St. X head coach Jimmy Lallathin.
“Coach, this is more than just a game now,” Bobby implored. “They’re on some racist stuff.”
At the time, Coach didn’t pay Bobby’s entreaties much mind. He was as caught up in—and blinded by—the passion of the game itself as Nathan had been before his first breather.
Nathan, though, knew something was amiss, and kept an ear out for it when he went back in.
“I started listening,” Nathan says, “and I was just blown away.”
At the next timeout, Nathan voiced his concerns in the huddle.
“Coach, you’ve got to listen to this stuff they’re chanting,” he said. “This is getting out of hand.”
With two of his starters now put off, Coach Lallathin shared his concerns with Elder’s staff. But the vitriol persisted, with clear words and full throats, into the third quarter, when the home fans added Coach Lallathin to their verbal hit list.
One of St. X’s assistant coaches, Halsey Mabry (who’s African-American), was ready to take matters into his own hands.
“For you two, I’m willing to go up into the stands and punch one of them,” Coach Mabry told them, “because I grew up with the same stuff and I’m not going to let this come onto you.”
“Bobby and I loved it a lot because it shows that the whole team and the whole staff was behind us through it all,” Nathan says.
Before Coach Mabry could act on those intentions, Coach Lallathin threatened to pull his team off the floor if the nasty chants persisted. That got Elder’s administrators to take action, though the damage had already been done. A shaken St. X squad wound up losing big, 67-46.
“I was just shellshocked,” Nathan says. “I grew up playing basketball against a lot of those kids on the basketball team [at Elder]. I was friends with some of them, and I just really couldn’t believe that they were willing to even say that in front of a sold-out crowd and just continue it on.”
The gravity of what had happened in that gym didn’t really hit Nathan until he walked onto the floor after the game. He saw his mom “broken down in tears, just bawling her eyes out in the middle of the court” as she told her son about the times that she, too, had been harassed for being Asian.
That night, Nathan was laying in his room when his mom walked in, once again bawling.
“I’m so sorry I had to make you Asian,” she told him. “I never wanted this.”
“That hit me hard,” Nathan says. “I was, like, my mom should never be ashamed of what she made or who I am.”
That’s when he knew things had gone too far.
Jeremy Lin has faced many of the same in-game epithets that Nathan has. There were occasional racist remarks from the stands during his days playing for Palo Alto High School in the Bay Area, but the worst came when Jeremy was at Harvard. As a senior for the Crimson, he heard that kind of hatred first-hand from an opposing player on the court, in the midst of a critical Ivy League game at Cornell.
“He was repeatedly calling me a chink,” Jeremy says. “His teammates could hear it. The refs could hear it. My teammates were about to fight him.”
Jeremy, meanwhile, couldn’t quite keep his composure. While he finished with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting (7-of-8 on free throws), he dished out just one assist against eight turnovers as the Crimson crumbled at Cornell, 86-50.
“It put me off a lot just because if it’s someone from the crowd, that’s one thing,” he says. “When it’s coming from another player and he’s doing it so openly in front of his teammates who had nothing to say, in front of the refs, who did absolutely nothing about it, it was just absolutely disgusting.”
As far as Nathan and Bobby were concerned, Elder’s response to the incidents from that fateful day in February left much to be desired.
Immediately after the game, some parents of Elder’s students came up to them to apologize for their children’s hateful words. A week and a half later, the two schools held a lunchtime meeting at St. X attended by basketball and football players, along with student council members from both sides. But to the offended parties, those gestures largely rang empty.
“I truly don’t believe [the meeting] would have happened had it not received news attention, parents being upset about it,” Bobby says. “[But] I feel like most of the responsible parties weren’t even there.”
Indeed, the incident became headline fodder for media outlets around Cincinnati. But as February moved into March 2018, the memory of that day seemed to fade. The police officer who had confronted Bobby was ultimately reprimanded. Beyond that, little else seemed to change.
The Bombers finished the season, 17-8 overall, as Division I sectional runners-up. In May 2018, Coach Lallathin resigned from St. X to later join the coaching staff at Oak Hills. And in June 2018, Bobby walked at graduation before moving on to Dartmouth.
In the fall of 2018, Nathan returned to St. X to captain the basketball team. Even though Bobby and Coach Lallathin were gone, Nathan couldn’t quite shake the memory of what had happened at Elder.
Rather than let that pain control him, he decided to empower himself with it. He told his mom he wanted to customize his sneakers for the upcoming season with the P.F. Chang’s logo, to take ownership of that taunt away from his tormentors.
In October 2018, Susan reached out to the Chinese restaurant chain to request permission to use its logo. That set in motion what would become a “magical moment” for Nathan and Bobby.
“As soon as we heard that, we were, like, ‘Wow, what a story,'” says Mike Gervais, P.F. Chang’s regional vice president of operations, “and what honorable young men to stand up that way with integrity, and stand up for yourself without going down some ridiculous path.”
Word of the incident—and Nathan’s inspiring response to it—spread to the P.F. Chang’s marketing department, which rustled up some contacts in the sports world, who then got ahold of Jeremy Lin’s business team.
When Jeremy caught wind of Nathan and Bobby’s situation, he “wasn’t surprised.”
“I’m used to this now sadly,” Jeremy says. “Sadly, I’ve come to kind of expect it.”
But beyond that resignation, Jeremy identified with Nathan’s decision to repurpose the P.F. Chang’s put-down in a positive way.
“That’s been something for me as well where, in the past, it’s been, like, ‘Oh, you think I’m this or that, or you call me this or that,’” Jeremy says. “I’m going to turn that negative energy and use it as fuel and motivation.”
That kind of harassment has largely subsided for Jeremy since he entered the NBA in 2010, though it hasn’t vanished entirely.
“College games, you have a lot of student sections where everyone gets drunk and saying whatever,” he says, “versus pro games, you get a little bit more of a refined crowd.”
In 2013, months after “Linsanity” took the world by storm, he established the Jeremy Lin Foundation, which has since come up with an anti-bullying curriculum for young students through EverFi’s online education. His foundation has also offered scholarships and basketball camps to kids in need, while Jeremy has personally written letters and autographed photos for those who have shared their stories with him.
“The thing I always say is if you allow them to throw you off your track and get distracted and get overly angry or upset, then they’ve won,” Jeremy says. “That’s their goal. So make sure that you don’t compound their mistake by adding your mistake onto it. If you learn how to deal with it the right way, you can use it as a positive for yourself and you can actually better yourself and motivate yourself, and inspire yourself through something that they’ve meant to be harmful for you.”
So when Jeremy’s business team approached him with the chance to help Nathan and Bobby, he didn’t hesitate.
“They shared it with me and they were, like, ‘Do you want to do something about it? This is a cool opportunity,’” Jeremy recalls. “And we were, like, ‘Oh, we should definitely do something and get involved.’”
Within 24 hours, word got back to Mike and his colleagues at P.F. Chang’s that Jeremy was in. All they had to do was figure out a date that would work for everyone.
Meanwhile, Nathan’s mom kept him in the dark.
“My whole family hid it from me,” he says. “They never told me I was going anywhere. They just said, we might go on a work trip somewhere, and every time I asked where, they said we’re still deciding.”
It wasn’t until a few weeks before the actual trip that Nathan’s mom started sharing details with him.
“I didn’t really know how to respond to it because I was like, I can’t believe this is going that far,” he says. “This is going to be just unbelievable.”
What Nathan calls “the best weekend ever” began before he and Bobby landed in Atlanta with their families for the experience of a lifetime.
On Friday, January 11, Nathan returned to Elder for a road game as both the Greater Catholic League’s top scorer, and St. X’s captain and emotional leader.
“There’s no way I’m letting us lose this game,” Nathan told his coach, Brian Kellett. “This game means so much to me. I’m not going to let this team beat us.”
Though the Panthers bottled him up defensively, Nathan guided St. X to a resounding 48-33 win, as much with his passing (four assists to go with seven points) as his passion.
“My coach said after the game he thought I had the best game of the season for myself so far,” Nathan says, “because I led with such positivity and I didn’t let anything of last year affect me.”
Nor were there any disparaging chants for him to block out, thanks to initiatives taken by the Greater Catholic League to curb offensive speech from student sections. Whenever Nathan touched the ball, the student section that once harassed him now fell silent.
The next day, victory in hand, Nathan and his family flew from Cincinnati to Atlanta. That Saturday night, they gathered with Bobby—who had flown in from New Hampshire—and his family at P.F. Chang’s, where Jeremy popped in to surprise his visitors.
“It just seemed like they were much more adultish and mature than I was when I was their age,” Jeremy says.
“Just sitting across from Jeremy was something else because, since everything has happened with Linsanity, I had followed him,” Nathan says. “As an Asian basketball player, that’s what we do. We just followed him.”
“Large individuals with large platforms like Jeremy Lin definitely help to affect change,” Bobby says. “And it means a lot that he’s willing to stand up for things such as racism and bullying.”
Jeremy rarely breaks his pregame routine, even for family and friends. But on that Sunday in January, with Bobby and Nathan watching warmups from courtside seats and high-fiving Hawks players in the tunnel at State Farm Arena, Jeremy made an exception so he could share a word, pose for photos and give his guests signed No. 7 Lin jerseys.
“Even though other people may be hating from the outside, I wanted them to know that I’ll always be supportive,” Jeremy says.
“The fact that he did that for us, and went out of his way to come and talk to us and take pictures with us,” Nathan says, “that was amazing.”
“I got to crack some jokes about Dartmouth beating Harvard last night in basketball, so that was pretty cool,” Bobby says. “But yeah, he’s a real cool dude. I enjoyed talking to him and I’m just so grateful for him and this experience.”
Once Jeremy returned to his pregame ritual, Mike and his colleagues from P.F. Chang’s presented Bobby and Nathan with another gift: pairs of James Harden’s latest signature sneaker from adidas. Bobby got his in plain white, per his request.
Nathan, on the other hand, opened up his box to find a bright red pair of Hardens with Jeremy’s signature on the front, and the P.F. Chang’s logo emblazoned on each side by sneaker artist Salvador Amezcua, better known as “Kickstradomis.”
“The fact that [Salvador] took time out of his day to make that for someone he doesn’t even know just meant so much to me,” Nathan says. “And he did such an amazing job on them, and I just can’t wait to show them off.”
Nathan plans to wear his customized Hardens for one game and one game only: February 1, for his senior night at St. X’s Berning Gym, against Elder.
BY Josh Martin /
PUBLISHED January/21/2019 /
Close Up 360
Luke Kornet gives David Fizdale just what he wanted
MILWAUKEE — Knicks coach David Fizdale rolled with young center Luke Kornet, placing him in the starting lineup over Enes Kanter for Thursday’s game against the Bucks.
It didn’t result in a victory, but Fizdale liked the move even better afterward. Kornet notched a career-high-tying 23 points, making 7-of-11 3-pointers as the Knicks got off to an early lead.
“That’s what I was hoping for, a guy that was going to space the floor for us,’’ Fizdale said following the 112-96 loss. “He opened up the floor for us to be able to attack the paint.’’
The Knicks haven’t won since beating Charlotte on Dec. 14 when Kornet was a key cog. That triggered Thursday’s move to see if he could help get the team out of its malaise. It could turn into a permanent promotion if Kornet produces like he did Thursday. Fizdale said he wants to give Kevin Knox and Emmanuel Mudiay the opportunity play with more space on the floor.
Kornet posted his career night in the city where his father, Frank, played as a Bucks forward.
“It’s definitely special — I’m sure my parents are proud,’’ Kornet said. “[Starting] was quite a bit different. I got used to it and tried to get into a rhythm in the beginning.’’
The coaching staff believes Kornet, 23, can act as a better rim protector and defender than Kanter, too. Kanter, who bristled last time he got yanked from the lineup for Mitchell Robinson, said he would address the issue after the game but instead got caught up in another controversy after his altercation with Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Kornet revealed he has been playing with a broken nose, wearing a mask the past week after knocking into Sixers center Joel Embiid on Dec. 19. Kornet also has a black eye from the break. The Knicks announced last week Kornet’s nose was not broken.
“I’m just trying to come out and make the most of it, create some offense and be solid on defense,’’ Kornet said before the game. “I’m taking the opportunity for what it is and make the best of it.”
Fizdale’s move is a risk as it could alienate Kanter, who is a free agent after the season and his situation at the trade deadline bears watching.
Fizdale said Kornet’s addition wasn’t about matching up with Brook Lopez, who has taken to shooting 3-pointers.
“I just thought going on the road, good time to look at a change and want to see how Mudiay, Kevin and even Noah [Vonleh] operate in space,’’ Fizdale said. “And I went back to our last win. That’s what coaches do during a tough stretch. Luke was instrumental. Maybe we can duplicate it.’’
Kornet made just one start last season as a rookie when he was on a two-way contract.
“I’m trying to make the most of what I have and establish myself and gain confidence and do what I can to show coach I can keep it,’’ said Kornet, who played in 10 G-League games earlier this season. “I’m hoping to help us win in this role.’’
BY Marc Berman /
PUBLISHED December/28/2018 /
New York Post
The 16 teams of the competition give their own battles each week in order to climb as high as possible in the rankings and get a step closer to their goals.
Of course, everything will be decided by the big protagonists: the players themselves! Some shine more than others, they are the contenders for the MVP award on a weekly basis and they skyrocket their value.
Eurohoops presents the Top 3 players in every position with the main criteria being each player’s individual performance and his contribution to the team’s progress…
The following players were left out of the list at the last minute: Georgios Printezis, and Adrien Moerman.
1. Derrick Williams
Stats: 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 14.2 PIR
Derrick Williams’ transfer to Bayern caused a lot of noise and, as it turns out about three months later, it wasn’t just a move to impress but an essential addition. The second overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft came to Europe and the EuroLeague with a large appetite and his presence on the court fully vindicates the Germans’ management.
The American forward has managed to shine with performances that combine spectacle and great solutions for Bayern. After becoming familiar with the new style of play in the first few games, Williams skyrocketed his performance levels and, with 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and lots of energy on both ends of the court, he takes the team from Munich to a higher level.
Of course, he’s a characteristic value-for-money choice! Everyone at the German club describes him as an excellent professional who spends extra hours on the court every day and who influences all of his teammates with his mentality. It will be interesting to see in the future whether he will stay with Bayern or cash in his performances at a bigger club or return to the NBA!
BY George Orfanakis /
PUBLISHED December/26/2018 /