HANGTIME: The Celebrity All-Star Game featured the camp instructors against the visiting NBA stars.
Photo: 10th Year Seniors
By RENALDO DORSETT
An iconic staple in the Bahamas’ basketball culture, the 29th edition of the Jeff Rodgers Summer Basketball Camp concluded with traditional “Fun Night” at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium.
During the event, campers had an opportunity to showcase their skills learnt from the camp, and the celebrity All-Star game featuring the camp instructors, against the visiting NBA stars, highlighted the evening.
Newcomer, free agent guard Ray McCallum joined several names familiar to the camp - including Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets, Shelvin Mack of the Utah Jazz, former NBA head coach Byron Scott and “Muggsy” Bogues.
Gordon, whose mother Denise is Bahamian, said it’s always a pleasure for him whenever he gets a chance to come back to the Bahamas.
The Rockets guard put on a shooting display and made six threes in route to scoring 22 points.
“It’s always good to come back to the Jeff Rodgers Camp, he’s involved with a lot of kids, that’s what I like. I always have fun coming down here, this is like a second home to me so I always enjoy coming to the Bahamas and being able to help out with this event and participate.”
Many speculated on Gordon’s participation with the Bahamas’ national team at some point, however, the veteran guard said that after looking into the situation, he discovered he was ineligible due to his participation with the 2010 FIBA World Championship for the United States.
“I just found out I’m not allowed [to play for team Bahamas] because I won a gold medal with team USA. So it’s either I play for team USA or not at all,” he said. “I wish I could though.”
Gordon’s Team Green won the game 119-115. McCallum scored 32 points, Mack finished with 21, and Bahamian singer Julien Believe finished with 14 points.
Team Blue featured instructors and local pros Kadeem Coleby, Scottie Farrington and Quentin Demeritte.
Coleby, who spent last season playing in Bahrain, finished with a game high 42 points. Farrington finished with 22, former NBA D-Leaguer Craig Winder scored 21 and recent Gannon University graduate Girbran Smith scored 12.
Camp Director Jeff Rodgers underscored the importance of the event.
“To us, this is the most important event in the camp because it gives the kids an opportunity to showcase all the skills they have learned over the past few weeks for their parents, friends and other interested basketball enthusiasts,” Rodgers said. “But again, more than anything else, we want to ensure that the campers understand the importance of developing healthy bodies with a positive outlook on life.”
Each of the visiting NBA icons conducted sessions with the campers aimed at instilling the values and ideals necessary for success on and off the court.
“We are so thankful to be able to reach this far and to still have the impact we have at 29 years. I really appreciate the time these guys take out to talk to the different groups, talk about their life experiences and the messages they deliver - staying in school, staying out of trouble, staying off drugs. Some of the same things I have been telling the past four weeks and 29 years,” Rodgers said. “The kids were so excited and it is always a great experience for them to have the guys.”
In addition to the impact of the visiting NBA personalties, Rodgers said it is always important for the campers to be tutored by local players that have excelled in the game.
“Every morning we had the instructors and the guys from the national team interact with the kids so they see it’s not just the NBA stars, they get it from our very own talent just to show that there’s one message - there are rules on the court and there are rules in life,” Rodgers said. “We put a lot of focus in talking and teaching them as much as possible about life off the basketball court. One of the most important things for them to understand, and to teach them about Bahamian society and the challenges they will face off the basketball court with a focus on integrity and character building,” he said.
The camp now continues with its extension programme in the Family Islands.