On the day that the Villanova Wildcats won the 2016 College Basketball National Championship on the final shot against the University of North Carolina the 2016 Inductees to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame were also named.  Among the inductees are; NBA Referee Darrell Garretson, Legendary College Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, NBA three-time Finals MVP Shaquille O’Neal, four-time WNBA Champion Sheryl Swoopes, the first African American coach in a professional basketball league John McClendon and eleven-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson.  

 

“To have several icons of the game be recognized in the same year makes this class one of the most memorable to date” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.  To be elected, finalists must receive 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Hall of Fame.  “The Class of 2016 is big in stature, personality and impact,” said Jerry Colangelo, Chairman of the Board of the Hall of Fame.

 

To see Allen Iverson’s name among the list of inductees in his very first time on the ballot is an accomplishment that can be shared with so many people.  I think of his former teammates from the Aberdeen Raiders Youth Football team and how proud they must be.  At the tender age of 9 years old this was his first time playing organized sports.  The greatest lesson that they all learned was what it meant to build a team and the importance of teamwork.  Any individual accomplishment of a teammate is an accomplishment in the overall success of the team.  The young Raiders became teammates for life. They also obtained a very high degree of self-confidence and believed that all things are possible and nothing is impossible.  So I’m sure that they join the many teams and teammates that Allen Iverson played on in high school, college or professionally who share the accomplishment from his name being included with those to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

I’m sure that his family, friends, fans and supporters all share in this accomplishment as well.  For those who thought that he couldn’t make it and doubted that he would even survive the struggles of life they too can share in the accomplishment.

I now know better.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in God with all thine heart and lean not unto our own understanding.  Unto all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths”.

 

When I first met Allen and brought him into our program, he was only 8 years old and all he wanted to do was play football.  He didn’t know what would come from the development of a dream that he had as a child.  When he discovered the gift and the opportunity that he had to play professional basketball in the NBA, again all he wanted to do was play basketball.  What started with a dream to play organized football and then basketball has turned into an induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

 

Now I know for a fact that the Hall of Fame induction was not a part of the dream that Allen Iverson had to play basketball.  However, I also know that through the strong faith of a praying Great Grandmother named the late Ethel Mitchell, Allen does trust God in every way imaginable.  He doesn’t understand every that happens in life or even why it happens but he learned from her not to ever question God.  

 

It has been said that Allen did it his way or marched to the beat of his own drum but if I didn’t know then I do know now that it wasn’t all about him (Allen Iverson) but more about God and the direction to the path that would be taken.

Iverson Tribute

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Ricardo Ratliffe captured his third KBL title with the Mobis Phoebus last week. Winning this title makes him a three time champion in three years winning back to back to back KBL Championships. Ricardo is the first non-Korean player who has won the championship three times in the KBL.

The Mobis Phoebus swept the championship series in four games versus Wonju Dongbu Promy. In the series, Ricardo averaged 14 points and 8.5 rebound and was a key component in his team’s success.

Ricardo finished his third season for the Mobis averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, his first time averaging a double-double for the season playing professionally and leading his team in points per game for the entire year.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to play in Korea and to help my team win three championships” shared Ricardo. “This playoff run was even more special because my mom was here to be apart of it and because my daughter was also born this month” Ricardo said.

Due to KBL rules, which prohibit a non Korean player from playing with the same team for more than three consecutive seasons, this will be the last year that Ricardo will be able to play for the Mobis Phoebus.  He has accomplished many accolades in his first three years as an import for the Mobis, leading the league in rebounds twice and blocks three times. He has been named Player of the Week more than twenty times and was able to win the Williams Jones Cup for South Korea this past summer.

Ricardo was drafted first in the KBL draft in 2012, by the Mobis. On playing in Korea, Ricardo says, “it's been great! I love playing in Korea, I have so many fans here whom I love. Having the opportunity to start my professional career here has been a great experience. I look forward to the future and continuing to play professionally.”

http://cardocontinues.com/index.php/press-release/413-ratliffe-wins-third-consecutive-kbl-title

 

All over the country, “Senior Night” marks the end of one’s career in high school or college athletics. As I take notice of this special night for many basketball programs across America, I cannot help but think of the young men and women. To some it marks the end of an era and the beginning of new and more challenging experiences in life. Take the Student Athlete in college for example.   For many it was at least four hard years of work in the classroom and on the court. One could only imagine how difficult of a challenge it was competing for just the opportunity to attend. Then to maintain the academic levels necessary to participate and then balance the interpersonal hardships and challenges they face playing college basketball. Oh yes, having your name called on this eventful night is much more than meets the eye. Seeking success is more about one’s faithfulness throughout the process because life doesn’t end after college. That is why it is so important to have the irresistible urge not to quit, even when the challenges that you face at times gives you every reason in the world to do so.

This past Saturday was “Senior Night” for the Men’s Basketball Team at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), in Richmond, Virginia. This is the college that I attended and the school that I admire most, but not just for that reason. I love the family atmosphere it created and the life lessons that were learned. Many of those lessons are still being used today.

The three seniors honored on this night were, Treveon Graham, Briante Weber and Jarred Guest. Graham and Weber were leaders on this team that was known nationwide for its “Havoc” style of defense. However, Guest is the player who I choose as my focus for this blog. He stands about 6’8” tall and weighs 225lbs., with the athletic ability to jump vertically at a level that others could only imagine. Yet, when I look at his career statistics I see a person who averages only 8.1 minutes of playing time per game, 1.5 points, 1.6 rebounds and about .1 of an assist. On paper those stats aren’t very attractive, but it speaks volumes to who Guest is as a person. He has that irresistible urge not to quit, but to seek success throughout the process. Guest is on schedule to graduate on time this May. No matter what area of study, the degree alone gives him an excellent opportunity to succeed in life.   I believe that he could also have a future in professional basketball, if he wants it.

Guest showed tremendous promise when he came to VCU from Charis Prep School in North Carolina. He led his team to a 35-5 record and his coach (Carlos Peralta) was quoted saying, “that the big reason for the record was the play of Jarred Guest”. He was also a member of the first team to ever make it to the Final Four from VCU. It would have been understood if he decided to transfer when his playing time declined and join another program that would have welcomed a person with his special skill level.

Jarred Guest is a great example for anyone seeking success in life. I admire the fact that he stayed the course and did not quit. Things are not going to always go your way or the way that you feel that they should but always keep the faith, so that you are ready when the time comes. It reads in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Success is about faithfulness throughout the process. I’d love to hear your thoughts or likes.

 

Dear Reader:

I always thought that I could change the world. I felt as though every kid with the ability to play football also had the ability to be successful in life. I wanted to teach “Life Skills”. However, I used football as my backdrop for doing so. Kids then had a incredible love for the game. They wanted to learn how to play, and be good at it. See I knew, the treacherous landscape that life can be for a Black male and I wanted to help guide them across. I wanted my words to be motivation and I wanted to teach them the importance of teamwork and accountability. These are two things that I felt were essential to facing the obstacles that were sure to come in football and in life thus offering the best chance at success. I had a profound belief that organized football was the way.

I had learned from my father and his friends that you could teach kids how to live through organized sports.   As a toddler, I saw these men mold an entire community through sports. They would load up their own cars and use their hard earned money to sponsor kids in youth football leagues. These guys did this out of love and never expected a dime in return. I knew then that this is what I wanted to do. So the first opportunity that came for me to build a team and teach how to play and live the right way, I jumped right on it. Doing it simply for the joy that comes from helping someone get on the road to success, and understanding what it takes to do so.

The documentary entitled, “IVERSON” is an incredible life changing true account of the journey that took place in the career of a superstar that almost never happened.

I have waited for the opportunity to tell the true story of who Allen Iverson really is and what he and many others like him go through to become who they are. As Executive Producer I am thankful for the opportunity to partner with Filmmaker/Director Zatella Beatty along with Showtime to present to the world this incredible story. For many this film can provide a blueprint for shaping lives and building brands, along with the blood sweat and tears that come as a result of that process. I am forever grateful to Allen Iverson for allowing us the access into his life to give an unwavering account of what took place before, during and after the bowling alley incident, that would change his life forever.

IVERSON offers no sugarcoating, just an authentic accounting of history, telling like it is.   The director (Beatty) and I share with you some of the stories as we go behind the scenes and inside the life of a young Allen Iverson as we witnessed some of his experiences right along with him. We will give you a first hand account of many of the obstacles that he faced. We will share with you the good and the not so good results of what will be revealed as a remarkable but true story. In this documentary, you will see why we say that the career that Mr. Iverson had as incredible as it was, almost never happened. It took a special kind of person to allow this story to be told.

The story offers hope to anyone who is trying to accomplish anything in life. Hope that in spite of life’s challenges and obstacles that with patience and perseverance one can achieve success in reaching goals that only you and God knows are there for you.

Special thanks to Showtime, the NBA, ESPN and all of the news affiliates who contributed to the production of this documentary.

Allen Iverson was in his own way an innovator. He was the catalyst behind a shift in culture. He was like a rocket going into space and making history all at the same time. Long after his retirement from the game he will be remembered for how he changed the game and made it ok to be yourself as long as you play the right way.

IVERSON the documentary offers me the opportunity to share with you some of the human side of an international icon. The human side that I had the pleasure of seeing every single day that I have known Allen Iverson. Our journey through life can be looked as a book, with every day that we live representing a page in that book. If the life of Allen Iverson is a book that he has refused to open, then this documentary allows us a chance to see a little of what came along with being who he is, without a single page being wasted.

I hope that everyone gets an opportunity to see it and share it with others. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

This week marks the beginning of what is called, “March Madness”. 68 teams from all over the country compete for the National Championship in Men and Women Basketball. In many cases it also offers many moments of empowerment for those who participate. There’s an intangible and competitive spirit that leads to one shining moment that will last a lifetime in the hearts and minds of everyone involved. However, there will be many shining moments shared by many before we arrive to that one moment that usually takes place at the Final Four.

For instance, the University of Kentucky (UK), Hampton University (HU), Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Southern Methodist University (SMU) shared moments during their conference tournaments that I am sure that they will not soon forget. Kentucky is the first Division 1 basketball team to go undefeated in the regular season and conference tournament, since the University of Indiana won it all with a 32-0 record in 1976.   When Kentucky defeated Arkansas in the SEC Conference Championship this past Sunday that was indeed a shining moment-34 and 0.

Hampton University enters the NCAA tournament thanks to the automatic bid they received when by defeating Delaware State University in the MEAC Tournament Championship game on Saturday afternoon. When the tournament started all you could hear in Norfolk Scope was how coach Ed Joyner of HU would not return as the coach next season. In fact, the team lost its final home game of the regular season to its biggest rival Norfolk State University. The team that they defeated in the semi-finals of the tournament was also Norfolk State University. No they didn’t win the majority of their games during the regular season but they were able to go on an incredible run and win four straight games in the tournament to be named Champions of the MEAC and there was their shining moment.

Virginia Commonwealth University lost its best player in Briante Weber to a devastating season ending injury this year. The team struggled to find its way the rest of the regular season, losing twice to its crosstown rival, the University of Richmond along the way. The team however, caught its groove in its conference and went on to win the Atlantic-10 Tournament Championship for the first time since joining the conference. Even though he was injured and unable to play, Weber was with the team every step of the way, and when they won the championship he was able to join in the celebration and helped them cut down the nets. Picture that one shining moment!

What legendary coach Larry Brown has done for the basketball program at Southern Methodist University is nothing short of incredible. Brown is a person who was the coach at Kansas University when they won the National Championship in 1988. Ironically, 1988 was the last time that SMU won a conference championship and a berth to the NCAA tournament. Brown also won a World Championship in the NBA while serving as head coach of the Detroit Pistons. He doesn’t have to coach another game but he choses to continue to coach and empower future generations of student athletes. As I watched the SMU Mustangs play in the American Athletic Conference tournament this week they were symbolic of the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers that went to the NBA Finals that year. Nobody expected the 76ers to win anything and neither was SMU. The Mustangs however, defeated all odds by winning the tournament. Their shining moment came in front of a crowd that cheered so loud for UCONN and against SMU that you couldn’t even hear yourself speak. SMU received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that could end with a trip to the Final Four for yet another, “One Shining Moment”.

That shining moment can mean so many things to so many different people. It offers encouragement to student athletes from colleges and universities all over the United States. To continue to persevere through the many obstacles that we face and to focus on the success that could come as a result. Like in the lyrics of the Oscar winning song entitled, “Glory” that was written for the movie, “Selma. “It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy”. Truly believe and recognize that the most memorable results of March Madness are many times captured in “One Shining Moment”.

As I watch Briante Weber playing basketball for the VCU Rams, I also think of Allen Iverson. There are so many similarities in the two young men. They both hail from Virginia, both have much promise, much talent, the potential for greatness and they both have “gifted hands”. Hands that could take the basketball from an opponent, as easy as it would take candy from a baby. The same hands will soar and score over any obstacle that stood in his way. It was sad watching Briante lay on the court in pain the other night while playing against the University of Richmond. Not so much for the fact that he was only 12 steals away from setting a new record in all of college basketball. Not the fact that the injury could have ended his college career. Not even the fact, that the game was being viewed on national television. No what makes it sad is the fact that like Allen Iverson all Briante Weber ever wanted to do was play basketball.  

I saw Iverson’s development first hand, from the time that he was a kid all the way to his professional career that will surely end with an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. I see the potential for the same type of greatness in Weber.   Like Iverson, Weber’s desire to play is unmeasured. However he plays the game at a level that far exceeds anyone playing college basketball today.   Combine that unmeasured desire and the God Given talent to defend, score and make everyone around him better, there lies the potential I speak of. The difference between the two is the fact that Allen Iverson is now retired from the NBA. Among his many accomplishments included, NBA Scoring Champion, Leader in Steals and Minutes Played, (which was done several times throughout his career). He was a League MVP, 2-Time All-Star Game MVP, Rookie of the Year and All-NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd Team Selection. The future of Briante Weber is before him. The injury that he sustained is simply a message to the world to look out, because the best of him is yet to come. Just as when the ability to play the game that was taken from Iverson made him stronger before his dream was realized. The same thing can happen for Weber. Any setback that one goes through in life should be looked upon as a setup for a comeback. However, the comeback is always much greater than the setback. Through hard work I have seen many successfully recover from this injury. Weber should be no different!

So for anyone who is about to give up on his ability to comeback, you better think again. That would be the biggest mistake ever made. The same “mecurical wunderkind” that shocked the world with the ability to comeback years ago will come again, and his name is Briante Weber. “ God’s Gifted Hands”.

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