Hoops Heaven

My reading habits have changed dramatically since I became active on the internet, and there have been some strange ramifications. I now find that when I hear news on the news programs, oftentimes, it is "old" because I have picked it up much earlier from the internet. With newspapers, the lag time is even worse. I still subscribe to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but I will have to admit I do not read the newspaper like I used to. I scan the paper early in the morning and if a picture or a head does not attract my attention, there is a good possibility I will miss it. This is an irritant to some of my friends who do not have the internet when they try to discuss items that have appeared in the newspaper.

Recently, we began receiving a supplement to the newspaper designed for readers in my particular section of Richmond (Far West End.) I don't even remember seeing the supplement when it came, but Mrs. Ramfanatic asked me the other day if I saw the article about the person who went to Michael Jordan's basketball camp. I told her I had not and fortunately she had saved the supplemental section for me. I'm glad she did.

The article is about a gentleman named Kevin Wood, a native Richmonder who played basketball at J.R. Tucker High School and later at Randolph-Macon. He is a member of the RM Athletic Hall of Fame, played and coached with the Court Authority team that used to play numerous pre-season games with college teams , and tried out with the Atlanta Hawks.

Maybe I should give a little background on the camp he attended because I am embarrassed to say I had not heard of it. It is called the Michael Jordan Flight School and this year is the sixth year it has been held. That doesn't say much for me if it has operated for six years and I hadn't heard of it.

The school is held in Las Vegas and is limited to persons 35 and older. Kevin and other participants stayed at the fancy Mirage Hotel and Convention Center. It's not cheap and even though the exact cost was not mentioned, the article did say that the cost was a "five figure billfold hit." As bad as I am in math, I can figure out that the the cost had to be somewhere between $10,000 and $100,000. There were 100 campers in attendance so the revenue generated by the camp was not insignificant.

Kevin has no regrets about the cost. He also took along his wife, mother-in-law, and two children on the trip. I'm sure they got to enjoy some of the benefits of the trip like being met at the airport and transported to the Mirage in a limo. Camp participants stay in luxury suites with a roommate so I imagine Kevin's family had to find things to do on their own during the day.

Kevin says it was a thrill to be able to rub shoulders with giants in the field of basketball. Persons in attendance were: Dallas owner, Mark Cuban, comedian Damon Wayans ( again I am embarrassed because I don't know this gentleman-maybe some of you do), Dr. Jack Ramsey, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, Jerry West, Coach K, Tubby Smith, Phil Jackson, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Lenny Wilkins, Charles Barkley, Mike Montgomery, Paul Silas, Hubie Brown, Kelvin Sampson and former UCLA coach John Wooden. Kevin says that Coach Wooden talked to the group for 45 minutes without notes and was still mentally sharp even though he is now in his nineties.

The attendees are split up into 10 teams and play an elimination tournament. Wood's team was coached by Dean Smith, Mike Montgomery and Paul Silas. Kevin's team won the tournament and Kevin says he got a slap on the back from Coach Smith when he sank 2 free throws with less than a second to go after being in the "four corners" for 90 seconds. Obviously there was no shot clock. Kevin averaged in double figures for the entire tournament.

Kevin says that Coach Smith was "about the nicest person I have ever met" and he says he will always remember the words DES wrote when he signed Kevin's copy of the book "The Carolina Way." "Best wishes Kevin and I wish I could have coached you." Michael Jordan said " you are a good player" when he presented Kevin the glass cup as the winning team in the competition.

Kevin doesn't remember how he heard about the camp and had originally planned to attend last year, but an injury prevented him from going. His advice to anyone considering attending the camp is to be sure you are in good shape. If not you are "likely to get hurt." Kevin lost 20 pounds getting ready for the camp.

Somehow I feel like Kevin doesn't regret the expense involved in attending the camp. How many of us have been coached by Coach Smith and told by Michael Jordan that we are a good player? After all, it's only money.