HONORARY Baller:
......... gprep

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Dec 23, 2010

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

                                    
IT’S WAS A BALLER’S CHRISTMAS, FROM COAST TO COAST. ONLY A FEW SPACES REMAINED ON THE WALL, NO SEATING OF
COURSE!

THE COURTS WERE TIGHT. THE AIR WAS THICK. THE MOOD WAS JOLLY LIKE OL’ SAINT NICK.  NO LUMPS OF COAL, JUST THE SWEET SMELL OF MINI DONUTS, HOT DOGS AND POPCORN… TICKLED MY NOSE.   

THE TIP-OFF WAS MERRY, AS HOOP FANS SHOUTED WITH GLEE. THE TIGERS, KNIGHTS, ROYALS, TROJANS, TEDDIES, HORNETS, PANTHERS AND POLARS WERE ALL PUMPED TO PLAY!

AND AS I HEARD THE REF BLOW HER WHISTLE, THEY BLEW OUT OF SIGHT,  DOWN THE COURT… AS FAST AS LIGHT.
 
I SAW CROSS-OVERS, STEP-BACKS, STUDDER-STEPS, DRIBBLES AROUND THE BACK, …DIMES DROPPED, PUMP FAKES AND PLAYERS TAKING IT TO THE HOLE.  THAT’S RIGHT!

THE CANDY STRIPE SPARKLED AS FOULED PLAYERS TOOK TURNS AT THE LINE. SOME USED THE BACKBOARD WHILE OTHERS RATTLED THE RIM. SWISH! SWISH! SWISH! THE NET DOESN’T LIE. THE POINTS ADD UP. THE CLOCK RUNS OUT.

THEN WITH THE BLINK OF AN EYE AND A LITTLE CHRISTMAS MAGIC, SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT WAS TRULY REMARKABLE.

THE PLAYERS, ALL OF THEM, HAD BEEN REPLACED. I WATCHED IN AMAZEMENT,  AS SANTA’S ELVES TOOK TO THE PAINT.
THEY WERE BUMPIN’, GRINDIN’  AND POSTING UP EACH OTHER. IT WAS FUN TO WATCH THE PINT-SIZE MATCH-UP.
AND, IT WASN’T LONG BEFORE SOME VENTURED OUT , KNOCKIN’ DOWN SHOTS FROM HALF COURT.

THEN, A JINGLE SOUNDED, AND THE ELVES PUT DOWN THE ROCK. IT WAS TIME TO GO, SANTA SAID SO. FOR, THEY HAD A JOLLY JOB TO DO THAT WOULD TAKE THEM AROUND THE GLOBE.

THE BALLERS CAME BACK. CHAMPIONS WERE CROWNED. TROPHIES WERE AWARDED.  IT WAS TRULY A GOOD NIGHT.  MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!   

 

12/23/10
Honorary Baller

 

 

Dec 09, 2010

Social Networking May Be Out of Bound

Before you text, tweet or facebook, THINK! You never know who’s watching or reading. Coaches and college recruiters use social networking to learn about a baller’s game, off the court. How you handle your personal relationships can be key to determining if you’ll fit in with a team, college or community program.

Nothing is private in cyberspace. NOTHING! Your ill advised entries and
inappropriate photos could call your character into question and more importantly cost you a college scholarship.

There’s nothing cool about swearing online. Bad language and unsportsmanlike behavior could bench you from opportunities on the court. Coaches may choose to pass on you for a less skilled baller, with better morals.

Social networking is exciting and fun, a high tech way to connect and stay connected.
So have fun with your friends and family, but keep your head in the game, the game of life. Don’t commit a flagrant foul with foolish immature communications that could damage your character.

Honorary Baller

 

7-10-09

When Times Get Tough, Opt For “$imple” Solutions

There’s nothing inflated about America’s “recess” from spendier times. American’s hard earned money vanished on Wall Street, wiping out many family savings, college funds, golden parachutes and 410Ks.

As we wait for the economy to recover, we can credit the recession with forcing us to abandon excesses and obsessions in favor of simpler, inexpensive means of living.

We can take control and lessen the spiraling stress of financial burdens, by adopting a simplified “throw-back”, less materialistic, less self indulgent approach to life.

Choose to spend time doing the things you truly love. Keep those you love near. Value people not things. Nurture friendships. Hold fond memories dear. Take time to appreciate
all that’s good, casting away the bad. Don’t be afraid. Create. The Unknown is the future. Recognize the necessity for change. Seize opportunities. Then, lead by evolving. Help others follow in your footsteps.

They are life’s simple solutions sans the surplus spending that too many of us have become addicted to. America can no longer afford it.

I’m confident that the American economy will eventually rebound, that the unemployed will once again become the employed, that recession whittled-down salaries will rise and
that workers’ trust will be restored.

However until it does, we can ALL “work” on simple solutions to get us through
these tough times.

By H.B.

 

 

01/18/09

Make The Change in 2009!

gprep, Barack Obama

Without question, 2009 is the year of CHANGE. For the first time in the history of the United States, an African-American was elected to lead the country into a new direction. On January 20th, Barack Obama will take the oath of office on the steps of the Capitol, making him the 44th President of the United States of America.

Whether you voted for Obama or not, change is upon us. The nation must move forward, especially in these troubled economic times.

No matter where we are in our lives at this very moment, we should seek to make a change for the better. Change is born out of courage. Any improvement is a step in the right direction. To standstill or to resist is to repeat the mistakes of the past. Backwards thinking will only stunt our growth, postpone our successes and divide us even further.

I plan to set off a CHANGE reaction in my own life. I’ll start at home then work my way out. I’ll love, embrace and reconnect with my family and find new ways to celebrate our many blessings. For, we are fortunate.

However, key to this CHANGE will be the love, acceptance, trust, understanding, forgiveness and laughter (gotta laugh) I’ll bestow on myself so that I might be open to receive bigger changes in my life and for those I love.

It’s CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN. YES, WE CAN.

H.B.

 

 

9-22-08

Lady Ballers Fashion Flip Flops

The on-court off-court accessory is all the rage. And, the more fashionable, the better.
Just drop by any high school gymnasium. Apparently, NO cheap rubber thong version will do. Female ballers clearly shoot for comfort, the Cadillac of flip flops. And though white gym socks are not required, players do appear to prefer them. What were originally intended to save wear and tear on gym shoes and soothe basketball players’ achy, sweaty, tired feet after a workout or a game… have now become a sign of sorts… a prelude if you will… that a “serious” baller’s on deck. I’ve even seen ballers glance down after greeting a fellow baller as if to somehow size up the competition. Could it be true? Flip flops make the baller? Behind every good pair of flip flops is a dime-dropping baller? Athletes wear them to and from the court. Some even wear them right up to game time. And many ballers won’t go to the gym without them. They’ve become second only to the rock. Now, don’t misunderstand the apparent flip flop fashion fancy. As the ref will attest, no fouls have been committed. And, the statement sandals aren’t out of bound. It’s just a fashionable sometimes flashy fun… though functional way to punctuate the female ballers’ game.

9-1-08

Singing Baller Slam Dunks National Anthem



Richfield High School senior Pamela January proved she is multi-talented Saturday, August 30th. January sang the Star-Spangled Banner before a crowd of 6,980 at the Lynx-Mystics game at the Target Center. January’s performance was a wonderful surprise, for a night that was already made special by the return of new Olympic Gold Medalist Seimone Augustus from Beijing, China. January was both poised and polished in the spotlight. She stood center court singing, with flash bulbs going off and a film crew recording nearby. The 5’9” Spartan power forward’s soulful rendition gave me shivers, and even prompted me to part my lips and sing along! January’s high notes touched other basketball fans as well. Standing with their right hand placed over the heart, the emotion was clear. Their hopeful faces and the American flag were displayed on the Jumbo Tran for all to see. Known for being a difficult song to sing, January nailed it. She brought warmth, heart and spirit to the patriotic lyrics, at a tough time when people in this country are wrapping themselves in the flag and holding out hope for change: economically, politically and socially. The game ball goes to January, for making us connect via a common emotion we all share, pride! Bravo and THANK YOU!

H.B.

8-24-08

Lynx Seimone Augustus Returns an Olympic Hero


On Sunday, August 24th, Minnesota welcomed home a new Olympic hero! Minnesota Lynx Star Seimone Augustus helped the 2008 U.S. Women’s Basketball Team win its fourth straight gold. In the Gold Medal Final on Saturday, August 23rd, Augustus scored four points and pulled down six rebounds at the Olympic Basketball Stadium in Beijing, China. This makes the third straight gold medal win against Australia. The final was 92-65. The U.S. Women have now won six of the nine gold medals awarded in Olympic basketball. The Lynx forward averaged 7.9 points in the Beijing tournament. Augustus, who’s only been in the WNBA League two years, was the Lynx’ number one draft pick. Her superior court skills, dedication, determination and sacrifice earned her a coveted spot on the 12 member Olympic team. Representing the United States at the 29th Olympiad is a dream come true for Augustus, who’s dreamt of being an Olympian since she was a little girl doing drills outside her Baton Rouge, Louisiana home. The humbled first time Olympian told USA Basketball the experience is an honor and a privilege. She’s absolutely right. Augustus is an Olympic-size example of what can happen when athletes dare to dream, remain focused and work hard to accomplish their golden goals. Minnesota and the Lynx should be proud of Seimone Augustus for being a great role model for girls. High school ballers can certainly use Augustus’ accomplishments to help motivate them into elevating their game. Practice made Olympic gold for Augustus. It can make it for you too! On Saturday, August 30th, the Minnesota Lynx will take on the Washington Mystics at the Target Center. Ballers everywhere should come out and support Augustus, by watching an Olympic hero in action.

8-17-08

Olympic-Size Proof, Practice Can Be Golden

Not until the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China, did I r-e-a-l-l-y sit down to watch the games. Sure I was aware of the Olympics and its elite athletes, but I never gave it much thought. Watching the first week of the 2008 Summer Games, I couldn’t help but marvel at the exactness of the sports and the tremendous heart, soul, dedication, focus, practice and sacrifice it took for ALL the athletes to compete. Likewise for every Olympian in Beijing, there is a selfless support system holding them up in victory and defeat. Make no mistake. There are NO LOSERS. They were weeded out years ago. Only “The Best” boarded airplanes to Beijing. These men and women are heroes of their sports. The athletes trained long and hard to get their minds and body Olympic ready for the games. You can see the commitment and determination on their faces. Their eyes tell the story. They’re in Beijing to live their dreams as the world looks on. I think ALL young athletes should watch the Olympics. It’s the ultimate motivator for greatness. To be the WORLD’S best… says it all. Every athlete on the world’s stage has paid his or her dues. There are NO FREE RIDES. Only the top athletes make the cut, forming America’s elite. Parents and coaches alike should remind aspiring athletes of the sweat paved road and golden reward, the top circle at the medal ceremony. It’s a powerful teaching tool at the hands of fearless men and women, who are driven to put everything on the line to compete, win and represent their country. I have new respect for ALL Olympians and young athletes who dare to push themselves and their bodies to excel to be the very best.

H.B.

 8-5-08

A Weighty Issue To Bounce Around

Should a baller expect a college or university to hold up its end on a verbal commitment? Likewise, should a college or university expect a teenager to honor her commitment to attend the institution? Are we asking too much of either party to follow through on its word a year later and at what cost?  Is there a window of opportunity at which either side can renege without harsh criticism or fault? Or, should the parties be held accountable and the spoken word be binding, sans ink and paper? Still, why not wait until signing day if neither side can be trusted to keep his/her word? So, why the early verbal if both sides can renege and occasional do, as is the most recent case involving Ohio University and Hopkins’ incoming senior Kara Elfoson. Perhaps, we should back up for anyone who still does not see the true gravity of the issue. When a player verbals with a college or university, it’s an oral pledge to stop looking at other schools, with the intent to attend the said school. Likewise, the college or university is pledging a financial obligation to the player in the form of a scholarship. Ok, fast forward. What makes a school or university renege its verbal commitment? Is it money, a change in staff, or a “new direction”?  Likewise, what makes a teenager change her mind?  Is it a lack of maturity that prevents her from entering such an agreement anyway? Jump in anytime moms and dads. Who has the most to lose? I’ll inbound this one. I say the player. Chances the family is depending on the scholarship to pay for her education, an education that could be postponed indefinitely or shelved all together. No doubt, colleges and universities can rebound quicker. The university has the financial backing and recruiting resources and is free to verbal with another player. Almost never does a college recruiter put all of his balls in one basket. The more experienced college or university knows the risks and success rate when entering into a verbal agreement with a teenager. What’s worse, an inconvenienced college that has to reshuffle its roster or a player whose dream is deferred? College and Universities honor your verbals with these kids or at least explain to the baller and her family that it’s just “recruiter talk”, with no real guarantees that you can take to campus and certainly nothing to hang your dreams or college education on.

H.B.

7-26-08

         COURT SPARKS, CROWD SHOCKED!

First take the word “catfight” out of the equation. The media’s description of  the Tuesday, July 22nd WNBA center court melee in Detroit, Michigan is insulting enough, as if  the ladies’ POOR display of sportsmanship didn’t somehow measure up to the men’s. In that case, it would be a “dogfight”, which of course everyone knows deserves more court creds? Both the Los Angeles Sparks and the Detroit Shock were WRONG! Because, a “dogfight” out punches a “catfight” anyway. Rest assure NO one ever referred to the infamous 2004 Pacer-Piston melee, arguably one of the worst brawls in NBA history which prompted a police investigation, as a “catfight”. The use of “catfight” suggests the ladies’ confrontation was malicious and spiteful. Call it what it was, fierce, passionate, physical competitors, who let their will to win boil over on national television. Again, make no mistake BOTH TEAMS WERE WRONG! I think coverage of the unfortunate incident shows the WNBA still does not measure up to the NBA, not even in scandal, at least not in the eyes of the media. I believe the WNBA League will bounce back and the players, coaches and staff will focus on some off-court anger management skills. Though no one planned the court confrontation, Detroit Head Coach Bill Laimbeer did NOT appear all that shocked from my living room. Laimbeer, 1989-89 back-to-back World Champion with the Detroit Pistons, was one of the roughest and dirtiest players in the NBA. His assistant coach, good friend and former teammate, Rick Mahorn, was also one of the Motor City “bad boys’. The WNBA suspended Mahorn for two games for leaving the bench and allegedly pushing Los Angeles Superstar Lisa Leslie. However, Mahorn maintains he was trying to restore order and integrity to the game and did not push Leslie, who was trying to help her teammate, Candice Parker. Despite talk of civility on the court, Laimbeer’s court smirk didn’t go unnoticed. Detroit is one of the WNBA’s most aggressive teams. Players know they’ll need to bring their physical game to get a win against the Shock. Laimbeer and Mahorn have taught them well. In 2006, Detroit won its second WNBA title in four seasons. But on Tuesday, Detroit’s aggressive style crossed the line. Los Angeles is not without a spark of fault. The WNBA’s number one draft pick rookie forward phenom, Parker, received a one game suspension and fine for defending herself and pulling aggressor Shock forward Plenette Pierson (received a 4 game suspension) to the floor. Six other Spark players received two game suspensions for leaving the bench. And in the mist of the melee, Detroit’s forward Cheryl Ford tore her ACL, while trying to restrain teammate Pierson. Ford had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair. She’ll now miss the remainder of the regular season. Ford could miss the playoffs too, for her peace keeping efforts. Sports analysts say the game was physical from the start…and tension and emotions escalated when Ford ripped the ball out of Parker’s hand after missing a basket. A violent game of dominos ensued with Pierson hip checking Parker, who took the bait. Parker fell, taking Pierson to the floor. Pierson got up and confronted Parker, igniting the brawl and court fisticuffs. Players and coaching staff cleared the bench to help their teammates. Parker is reportedly a nightly target. Her darling status, confidence, superior skills, endorsements, sellout crowd ability and WNBA commercials creates envy among players. The rookie comes under attack—by players looking to make a statement and posterize Parker on national television. Parker’s former college coach, Pat Summit says she’s not surprised at how the player’s reacted. The University of Tennessee Head Coach added fierce competitors like Parker automatically stand up for what’s right. Tuesday’s bench-clearing brawl forced the WNBA to issue an unprecedented number of suspensions. (so many they were staggered in alphabetical order) Equally unprecedented was the negative national media attention for the league, a league that struggles to win the admiration, loyalty and respect of its fans… as well as… their male counterparts in the NBA.Unfortunately, hecklers and haters are now coming out of the woodwork (like cockroaches) adding crude music and play-by-plays to WNBA fight clips on YouTube. If the WNBA wants us to EXPECT GREAT, we’re going to need better examples, more restraint and mental toughness.

H.B.

7-20-08

Sportsmanship Needed Off The Court

The basketball founding fathers knew the importance of maintaining a CIVILIZED culture on the court—when they coined the term “sportsmanship”. After all sportsmanship is basically another name for civility…which is something we’re ALL taught… right? However, I’m convinced teaching basic manners went out long ago like 8 track tapes and DAISY DUKE-LIKE basketball shorts. You know the ones that are regularly featured on the NBA Network’s “Moments In History”. Check your cable listings. I’m often dismayed, frustrated and even victimized by the growing number of self absorbed people who can’t seem to remember a simple sandbox rules. You know those who can’t resist sharing their annoying cell phone conversations at the pump, at the movies, at the checkout, at the post office or ANYWHERE that prohibits cell phone use. They’ll even throw you the occasional finger, the index for first interruption, the middle if you oppose. Their conversations never appear to be an emergency or life threatening, but rather self important endless social calls. Equally as annoying are the people who see no value in saying “excuse me”. when they bump or steamroll you. They have no regard for anyone. We’re all just breathing their air and occupying their space. Then there are the really obnoxious grazers who refuse to pull over their shopping carts. Though I’ve never asked, I think the FREE SAMPLES taste better if they’re chewed on the spot. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to deny anyone a chance to enjoy a free lunch. Some folks actually do make a meal of it, hitting every stand offering up everything from zesty cheese balls, to BBQ pulled pork… to the high performance energy drinks. The act of sampling is not wasted on me. I do understand the need for such booths to attract and keep customers as well as boost product sales. BUT, PLEASE GRAB YOUR SAMPLE AND/OR MEAL AND EAT IT TO THE SIDE, OUT OF THE WAY OF TRAFFIC. Not everyone is interested in watching you graze or shops to eat. Those are just a few examples of un-sportsman like behavior that could get you a tech… or thrown out of the game. Perhaps we should jog our memories and look to the court, where sportsmanship and manners are still in play.

From A Honorary Baller ( H.B. )

7-13-08

No, No Really… It Is An Honor!

It’s Sunday and that means an hour or two at our neighborhood Y. After I scan the news headline and gulp at least one cup of coffee, it’s time to find a pair of shorts, t-shirt and gym shoes and join the other ballers heading out. Oh yeah, I have to remember to grab the bottled water. That’s one of my many important jobs as HONORARY Baller. Once at the gym, there’s a series of warm up exercises and drills before anyone can shoot. I’m one of three Sunday campers, the biggest, oldest and the one most likely NOT to do the drills correctly and to miss a lay up under the basket. (outside shooting is much better)  Here’s a tip one of the campers passed along. “Just aim for the top of the square on the backboard and it’ll fall in.” In every class, there a natural pecking order. Our court class is NO different. You have the Camp Darling, you know the one… with dozens of camps and clinics under her sweat band and trophies lining the bookshelf. She’s 10 years old with lots of energy, good ball handling skills, strong legs and the ability to follow nearly all coaching orders to the “bark”. After all, she is the most experienced. You might call her a professional camper though she’s known to heckle or taunt on occasion. For which, the coach quickly reminds her about good sportsmanship… and then orders her to dribble and/or run extra laps up/down or around the court. It’s a humbling experience. The free spirited 6 ½ year old, who when not distracted by the small toy, “The Reaper”, he managed to smuggle into practice, is quite good. He’s very competitive, loves to win and isn’t above shedding a croc tear if that means another possession. These kids love to win! Then there’s me. I make them both look good, without really trying, really. What can I say? I’m a natural. It’s an important role that I gladly accept. Most times, I’m a living breathing example of  what NOT to do on the court. Kids, need examples… right?  I’m always happy to go last so they don’t have to, very important for maintaining peace in the paint. The best siblings can be sore losers, when the desire to win is so great. I’ve already confessed I’m no baller, at least not in the conventionally sense. My time put in on the court helps others around me get better. Hey, you can add team player to my many roles, but then what moms aren’t. You’ve no doubt heard of the family survival game, “Good Cop, Bad Cop”? But, camp wasn’t all bad. Today I was pulled out of a shooting drill and told to play DFENSE on the other campers. I was even given a BLOCKING SHIELD (I need one of  these at work ) to create contact as the kids took the ball to the hole. Suddenly, this defense gig didn’t half seem bad.

As each kid came at me in attack mode (mind you, we’re still talking about basketball, I couldn’t help but think about the crayons that weren’t picked up, the case-less dvds that pile up, the green beans that didn’t get eaten, and the shoes that can’t seem to find themselves back into the closet. (feel free to fill in your own list)  I thought this is my chance for a little payback. (smile) Really, it would be my honor. However, I quickly regained consciousness (no, I didn’t go there) and gave each child a loving tap… as they drove past me to the bucket. What’s a mother to do? After all, I am an HONOARY baller. I MUST CONFESS it is a privilege and an HONOR to be in good health, to share a court with my children and husband/coach and play the game WE ALL LOVE.

H.B.

7-11-08

Today’s “game”  builds confidence

First let me “MOM UP” and say… I’m not a baller, Though I must admit, after watching the girls of  all ages, sizes, hues and skills take to the court, I wish I had played. The girls are coached to “bring it”, to be aggressive, to welcome contact and above all PROTECT THE BALL. It’s not your mother or grandmother’s hoops. You won’t find any peach baskets in the paint.  Today’s “game”  builds confidence,  self-esteem, problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as mental and physical toughness… all qualities our girls need to succeed in life.  So, I’m like many moms… an HONORARY baller. That’s right.  Before you yell f-o-u-l, I’ve earned my ceremonial title. Besides I’ve watched enough hoops to know when the game is played right, it’s a thing of  beauty with every hard fought nail biting possession, dime dropped at will, swish of the net, rattle of  the rim, kiss off the glass, battle of the boards and heart stopping shot at the buzzer.I also have baller creds, stripes that moms earn by being off-the-court role players. For example, I routinely shuttle our oldest baller, 10 years old, to and from camps, wash smelly gym socks, (not before turning them outside in first), escort wayward shorts and t-shirts to the hamper, wring out wet hair bands, restock gym bags, refill water bottles, dawn the badge of  “inhaler police” and occasionally bounce words of  wisdom… from the stands to the court. I’ve even tried to play defense and take her to the hole in a little friendly mother-daughter game of one-on-one. Only the hole I seem to score most at… is the watering hole. Watching my daughter play is really fun. It’s like someone flipped the gym switch. She has become so skilled and increasingly consistent with her ball handling skills. And, her dad (unofficial coach) couldn’t be prouder. I’m proud too!

H.B.

 

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