Early in the Friday Bullets, I linked to a video of Kobe Bryant playing a group of campers 1-on-1.
In the video, he actually gets defeated on the first time by one of the campers getting him to bite on a pump fake before knocking down the leaning jumper against Bryant. When Kobe gets back onto the court after waiting his turn, he starts being physically imposing to the campers. He’s playing suffocating defense, swatting shots, and even drives the lane to dunk when a couple of jumpers are off their target.
Some would say he is being unnecessarily competitive, and even being completely unfair. LeBron James did something similar when he ended up dunking on a kid to avoid losing at a game of Knockout. Dwyane Wade kept blocking shots in order to avoid losing a game of Knockout at his own basketball camp. These videos have been met on the Internet with vitriol toward the NBA players “dominating” these children.
People are wondering how grown men can conduct themselves in such a manner. They say it shows the lack of character these stars have and they shouldn’t be playing this away against kids.
I would assume the majority of these people didn’t attend many basketball camps as kids.
When kids attend basketball camps, especially basketball camps of their idols and favorite basketball players, they are often star-struck by the NBA player in front of them. They hang onto their every word. Their eyes are wide-open in bewilderment because they can’t believe they’re in the same room as the guys they love to watch on television. They dream that one day, maybe thanks to what they learn at the camp, they’ll be able to play against their idols. Or maybe they’ll even end up being better than them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an unrealistic thought in their heads. They just want to be around the people they cheer for.
If they’re lucky enough to play a game of 1-on-1 against them or play a game of Knockout, it has probably made their childhood just to experience that. When you watch the kids Bryant is dominating or the kid that Wade is blocking to avoid elimination, it doesn’t appear they’re frustrated with what’s going on or that they’re ready to cry because the game isn’t any fair.
They’re smiling like their lives can’t possibly get any better. They’re having a great time. For a lot of kids, the movie Like Mike is a possibility in their heads. Their imaginations run wild and wonder if they can end up wherever their favorite players are.
And it’s moments like these camp experiences that give them hope of one day reaching this goal. Whether it’s realistic or not doesn’t really matter. Just like it doesn’t matter if Wade is blocking a shot or Kobe is stealing the ball or LeBron is putting a kid on an imaginary poster.
Everyone is just out there to have fun. These kids’ eyes are lighting up when this stuff happens. Everybody else should lighten up too.