Sunday, August 14, 2022

#CURATOR SERIES - Maurice Richardson

Who is Maurice Richardson?

Mr. Richardson is a seasoned basketball connoisseur who has been involved with all levels of basketball throughout his career.  As a player at SUNY Purchase - where as a member of the Westchester school captured two conference championships and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament.  In addition, he served as a player developer, junior varsity coach, free lancer videographer, stat auditor & production assistant for the NBA and currently serves as the Social Media Manager for The Tournament. 



QUESTION.


"There is no doubt that the use of social media has catupulated players and leagues to higher levels due to their visibility on various platforms.  Leagues like NYC’s Dyckman, The Rucker, Pro City and LA’s Drew League come to mind. 


How are you, in your position, able to stay relevant in today’s uber competitive market and ultimately what is the goal in your social

media presence?“


ANSWER.


It’s definitely an oversaturated market, but I think you stay relevant by trying stay as authentic as possible with covering the basketball community. Telling the players stories, highlighting people that maybe do not garner the same attention as the bigger names, but treating it with the same care.


Ultimately, my goal with social media is to shed light on high-level basketball all across the globe. I’ve lived in NY/LI my whole life, so being able to specifically spotlight players from those areas is important to me. I personally don’t feel like some players get enough respect, especially players from Long Island, so any time I can highlight a player or for that matter “our” talent - I’m all for it. 







Wednesday, July 20, 2022

#CURATOR SERIES - Will Mensah


Who is Will Mensah?

Mr. Mensah is a dedicated professional an accomplished and energetic basketball referee with a solid history of achievements in officiating for seventeen years.  He is also a motivated leader with strong organizational and with unique prioritization abilities.



QUESTION.

It is a known yet forgotten fact that there are more jobs surrounding the sport of basketball than there are of jobs of those who actually play basketball. 


Jobs such as coaching, scouting, ticket sales, player development, concessions just to name a few, but very few choose to become referee.


First off, as a youth, did you envision becoming a professional referee? If no, what were your plans as an adolescent .  Secondly, when did being a referee become an option and then a reality? Lastly, as one of the best referees in the metro NYC area, what advice would you give to the next group of referees as they try to scale the referee totem pole?” 




ANSWER.

As a youth I did not envision being a professional referee, actually I thought I would be a 12 year veteran of the NBA.  Upon retirement, I planned on becoming a high school physical education teacher and the school's basketball coach. 


Becoming a referee did not become an option until I ruptured my achilles heel during a USBL tryout. After the surgery and throughout the rehabilitation process, my desire to regain and maintain a healthy active lifestyle really fueled my new career path.  In addition, it provided me an opportunity to be around the game of basketball which at the time was my passion.  So, boom - becoming a referee checked ALL the boxes for a rebirth..  


Becoming an official did not become a real, tangible career path until I "took the jump" in 2005.  Like anyone else entering a new field, I needed to work my way up the ranks.  I honed my skills at local, regional leagues traveling throughout the northeast learning the full eco - system, but in only three years - 2008 to be exact- I was hired by the DLeague (currently referred to as the GLeague) .  



To date, 2008 was one of my best years and although 14 years later I am still shocked that this is not only a vocation, but actually is MY VOCATION.


I don’t know if I am one of the best referees, but I have a few tips for the next Will Mensah and others who like me were/are somewhat unaware of what to expect on this journey. 


1. Find a mentor for the level you aspire to work. (This rule applies for every level).


2. Be able to see "plays" whether they are during your games or watching other games, but the more "plays" you see the easier it is to make decisions when you are in that situation.


3. If you know you have clocked in your 10,000 hours continue to do so.  Keep crafting and evolving.


4. BELIEVE in yourself for your idea of success will happen when it’s supposed to. 





Sunday, July 10, 2022

#CURATOR SERIES - Andre Ambrose

 

Who is Andre Ambrose?

Andre Ambrose is a Brooklyn, NY Native who has dedicated his life to empowering others through coaching, community service, and entrepreneurship. His journey began as a youth basketball coach working alongside NYC’s most dedicated players, coaches, and programs. Next came the opportunity to direct Brooklyn’s most iconic basketball facility “Hoopland”, an experience he credits with helping hone his ability to grow talent, galvanize grassroots initiatives, and harness the energy of NYC.

Basketball has been the springboard for Andre’s business endeavors. The founding of Brooklyn Hoops which later became United Brooklyn has supported hundreds of student athletes in achieving their colligate and career goals. UB’s evolution led to the birth of Empowerment Through Athletics which exists to be a bridge between corporate entities and community initiatives, ensuring the two collaborate collectively and seamlessly. As in all past projects, Ambrose states all projects and partnerships to come will stay true to the theme of spreading love, and empowering people. 


Recently, our Mark Williams spoke to Mr. Ambrose  and asked him a question that has become a trending topic as of late. 



QUESTION:



There is NO secret that today’s world is centered around promotion, whether surrounding a person or company, marketing companies has become a necessity in “grabbing” one’s attention. Until recently, many big marketing companies were unable to reach “under served” markets largely due to their lack of resources and diversity within each company.   Has the current social climate created an environment where companies are more willing to work with smaller, yet diverse companies in order to target a more inclusive demographic as companies understand the power of previously neglected target groups?.


ANSWER: 


Great question, marketing and branding play a major role in our day to day lives without us even realizing how much of an impact they have in our simplest decisions. Some major companies have definitely benefited from being patronized without even attempting to be inclusive of their entire consumer base. However there is definitely a shift occurring, and I’m not sure if we credit social media, the current social climate, or the spike in entrepreneurship. I think that smaller groups, sub cultures, and even demographic areas have started “owning their masters” making it easier for bigger companies to partner up, as well as putting some companies in positions where they have no choice. Take Dapper Dan x Gucci or even Yeezy and his collaborations for example. As we continue to grow i hope to see more of everyone telling and owning their stories, plus connecting with the brands they support. We will have a much happier and even create a healthier ecosystem if that occurs.


Tying our conversation back to sport for a bit. The implementation of NIL makes a very interesting space where athletes can use their platforms, and also new technology like NFT’s, block chain, the metaverse, and web 3 to grow and connect with fans and brands. I can’t wait to be a part of the evolution of this space for it will take opportunities to the next level.

Monday, July 04, 2022

CURATOR SERIES - John Hawthorne


Who is Mr. Hawthorne?


John “Skipp” Hawthorne, founder of the HARDWORK24/7 Brand which is designed to further build the bridge between athletes and trainers for business, organizations, agencies, as well as individual purpose. John has opened the doorway that allows the HARDWORK brand to streamline mainstream athletes such as Smush Parker, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kemba Walker, C.J. Watson, Scott Machado, Gary Forbes, Isaiah Canaan, Andre Barret, Dahntay Jones, Chris Copeland, Doron Lamb, Chris McCullough, Isaiah Whitehead, Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Yi Jianlian, Zhou Peng, Guo Ailun and so many others.. John also has trained a numerous amount of overseas, collegiate, high school, middle school, and young players across the world.


The HARDWORK24/7 training program is not only for the professionals as we have trained individuals with little to no experience as well as the occasional recreation baller adjacent to the everyday male or female that just wants to get into good shape all across the world. “HARDWORK pays off. DO THE WORK”

Recently, our Mark Williams spoke to Mr. Hawthorne and asked him a question that has become a trending topic as of late. 

Question.

Today, social media is full of people working with players on their skill set. As someone that has been in the business for some time- how do you feel about the training eco-system becoming saturated with people considered “trainers”? And how are you able to keep a fair market share within the metro NYC eco-system.?


Answer. 


Personally, the growth of the sport is beneficial in many aspects - therefore it is only natural for the training aspect to grow as well. I'm fine with that. 


I am able to keep a fair market within the NYC area due to my integrity and authenticity. I do not need nor do I desire to train any and everyone. To get the best out of a player the relationship has to be right. You have to connect on more than one level. Business is only as good as the people you deal with.  Every person who can help you is not necessarily the right person to help you. You must use discernment. And so should they. It should be mutually beneficial for both parties involved.



Wednesday, June 29, 2022

CURATOR SERIES - Shanade Bernard

 


Who is Ms. Bernard?

Shanade Bernard is a daughter, a mother, a teacher, a role model, a NCAA referee and WOMEN that hails from Queens, NY.  #THEEND 



Question.


Being that it is 2022- we are coming up on the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Can you breakdown the importance of this ground breaking ruling and how it has shaped the landscape of athletics today? Also, in your opinion, has this 50 year old law altered the career path of many within under-represented society sects in particular those who are now in the coaching, refereeing, athletic administration fields? If so, how so?.


Answer. 

As we fastly approach the anniversary of Title IX we must pay homage to this ground breaking law that has truly shaped the landscape of athletics today.  As part of the Education Law of 1972, it , as a whole, set the stage for WOMEN to be on the same “level playing field” as men in all aspects surrounding education.  Basically, this ruling allowed WOMEN to be able to receive equal opportunities as their male counterparts which has led to women involved in all levels of NCAA athletics, college administration titles and WOMEN refereeing in the NCAA tournament.  Naturally, such involvement has created WOMEN earning administrative positions in the NBA as well as refereeing opportunities throughout ALL sports! As a result, WOMEN are now looked upon as athletes, not just girls that play a sport. As a parent, teacher and college official- i would be not telling the truth if i did not admit that we, as a society, have more to do, but due to Title IX we are moving in the right direction & i am happy with the overall progress that has been made. 

Saturday, June 04, 2022

#CURATORSERIES - Daryl Graham of G.A.M.E


Who is Mr. Graham?. 

Founder and CEO Daryl Graham is a certified player agent.  Over the last decade, he has successfully placed top preforming basketball players in both FIBA and the NBA. He merges his deep knowledge of the game, background in business, and years of experience to create a customized career plan for every client he recruits and represents.

 

Graham founded Global Artists Media and Entertainment or G.A.M.E, a full-service boutique agency, in 2014.  Four years later, he was recruited by Octagon Sports and Entertainment Agency, where he worked successfully as Head of International Scouting and Recruiting.  In 2018, he opted to shift his focus back to G.A.M.E. so that he could zero in on building a brand reflective of his own unique experience and approach.

 

Graham, prides himself on valuing character as much as ability.  His clients are highly skilled on the court, and hold themselves to a high moral standard off the court. This approach allows him to maintain a quality over quantity business model.  He chooses to keep his client roster small enough to give one-on one attention well beyond contract negations.  At G.A.M.E., athletes can expect effective career management, skill development, marketing and media management, and overall mentorship.

 

Graham looks at the long-term picture when it comes to representation.  He seeks to help his clients build and maintain solid careers through growth, excellence, and consistent commitment to the game of basketball.

 

Graham’s background includes seven years with the United States Airforce. Born into a military family, he has travelled the world.  He calls New York City home, although his work keeps him living out of a suitcase more often than not. Graham completed a Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication at Fordham University.  His love for basketball was born long before he remembers.  In addition to G.A.M.E, Graham also works within the spaces of entertainment and commercial real estate. You might catch him lending his professional expertise as an agent on radio, and podcasts.

Recently, our Mark Williams spoke to Mr. Graham and asked him a question that has become a trending topic as of late. 

Q. | “In light of the new NCAA rules surrounding NIL deals where student-athletes can have relationships with agents - How has the landscape changed for boutique agencies such as G.A.M.E or has it been business as usual”?

.

A. | "The landscape has changed immensely. Due to Overtime Elite and NIL there’s been a complete shift to business being conducted way earlier than usual. Marketing deals are fair game now for high school kids. the relationships a agent has with players can become fruitful immediately. if you have brands and sponsors that are looking to do business with high school kids. As far as conducting business, it’s regularly scheduled programing for G.A.M.E. I’ve been doing sponsorships, endorsements, and brand deals for years. It’s just the race to find players that have a combination of marketability off court and a winning pedigree on court to warrant the type of deals we want. "

Thursday, April 28, 2022

SE7EN DEADLY SKILLS




Since we wrote our original SE7EN DEADLY SKILLS blog (ten years ago) - we, like basketball, have changed.  Gone are majority of our training aids, a less reliance on stationary dribbling drills and a heavy emphasis on correction of shooting techniques as detail explanation of the "WHY" all the while focusing on more game like shooting situations and options.  

Although much has changed some things remain the same.  As a result, we, through various trials and tribulations, decided to focus our development program on OLD FASHION fundamental based tenets.  It was at this point, we created our 7 DEADLY BASKETBALL SKILL list. (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)


1). Ball Handling
2). Defense
3). Footwork
4). IQ Development
5). Passing
6). Shooting
7). "Tool Box" development 

To date our skill set list has become the bedrock of our development program.  We would contend the "new age" of training is in fact innovative (almost to a fault), but despite the "out of the box" training techniques such development simply build upon the aforementioned skills. 

We urge players and skill trainers to shy away from the use of training aids, gimmicks in order to enhance a players skill set, but while doing so - please ask yourself "would you train Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Dennis Rodman, Magic Johnson, Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving with the same "innovative" drills or will you revert back to the development of the SE7EN DEADLY BASKETBALL SKILL list?

Whatever, you decide is "on you" and we fully respect it and wish you nothing but the very best.  See you on the court

SEE BELOW EACH SKILL'S BREAKDOWN

7 (SEVEN) DEADLY SKILLS .

(In alphabetically order).

.

.

BALL HANDLING

.

The ability of getting the ball to an intended spot on the court.  This skill encompasses dribbling, but is NOT solely based upon the ability to dribble. Use of one’s body and use of different change of speeds & direction are REQUIREMENTS.


DEFENSE

.

The art of creating an uncomfortable environment begins with PRIDE, intensity, heart, quick lateral quickness, strength, a firm handle of angles and an understanding of the opposition’s “cans and cants”.


FOOTWORK

.

In essence, would you build a house on a shaky foundation? This skill requires great PATIENCE for without it a player will NOT become “a player” regardless of their physical attributes.


IQ

.

The art of understanding various situations including time, score, personal, opposition’s personal, basically a firm grasp of ALL aspects of the game.  


PASSING

.

The skill of giving a player the ball at the RIGHT time and RIGHT place based upon their abilities is actually an ART.


SHOOTING

.

The skill of making a myriad of GAME shots which stems from preparation under game like conditions both mentally and physically.  Obviously, fundamentals are vital, but GAME like reps form the basis for GAME like success.


“TOOL BOX” Development

.

There will be times where a player must react “ outside the box” and this is when a player displays his/her ability to be creative.  Explaining the “when and why’s” in addition to the “how” are the key to this REACTIONARY skill which is honed during actual play.