Silk Purse, Part Two

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Responding to Henry's post yesterday on Jamaal Wilkes, Kyle Slavin of The Second Coming tells this story about the time Wilkes stepped in as interim coach of his 11 and 12-year-old rec league team:

My father used to coach our 11-12 Rec league team at the Westchester YMCA, a decent group of kids that actually went undefeated that season. It just so happened that Jamaal Wilkes' son, Omar, was on the team as well. (He actually went on to play at UC Berkley, and did pretty well there.)

We played on Saturdays, and one week we had planned to take a family trip,, and we were going to miss the game. As my dad was looking for a replacement coach for the week, Jamaal actually volunteered for the job without being asked.

After practice, he showed up to pick up Omar, and had a worried look on his face.
"Now John, is there any system you want me to run, any set plays? And what about defense? How do you like to set up?" He had a million questions, including who our opponent was and whether we had played them before…basically, had he scouted them.

Dad looked at the three-time NBA All-Star and said, "Jamaal, you were in the NBA for twelve years. You played under Wooden and Riley. I'm pretty sure you can handle these twelve-year-olds."

My Dad told him what he could, but I always found it endearing how concerned Jamaal was about mucking up the plans for this little Rec league. It really shows what kind of stand-up guy he is.

And yes, we won the game.