In partnership with the LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, Spectrum SportsNet turned their studio parking lot into an outdoor basketball court to host 50 kids for an instructional basketball clinic, led by studio hosts Derek Fisher, James Worthy and Chris McGee.
The students (ages 9-12) from Toland Way and Fletcher Drive Elementary Schools first listened to a Q&A by former Laker champions Fisher and Worthy, then got to work on the court before touring the SportsNet Lakers studio.
“I think just being around kids makes you feel like a kid again,” Fisher smiled.
“We used to be one of those kids, second to third grade, with all the same challenges they’re having right now, if they’re shy, or trying to meet friends, so we’ve been there so it’s always nice to reflect on that,” Worthy said.
Fisher, who grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, far away from any professional sports team, said he never had anything like this clinic growing up.
“To be a kid, and have NBA players, All-Star players come out, definitely would have been life changing,” Fisher said.
The clinic wasn’t just about teaching kids about basketball fundamentals and the spirit of competition, but also giving them messages to take with them.
For Worthy, it’s about preaching realism, and getting the message through to strive for more than being a “Kobe Bryant or LeBron James of the world.”
“Don’t make basketball your number one thing, because the chances are you could be a pretty good doctor for a team, or maybe own a team, or maybe you’ll be Derek Fisher’s accountant and those jobs last forever. I just try to give them the truth about the matter. It’s good to push for sports and learn from it but be realistic about it.”
For Fisher it’s about using lessons from sport, regardless of what level you achieve, that can be applied in their every day lives.
“Sport and basketball can teach you discipline, teach you teamwork, it can help you understand that you can’t do it by yourself, that you have to work with other people to accomplish great things.”
Worthy added on…
“The same teammates that you have out on the court are the same teammates you would have in the corporate boardroom. Learn how to recognize each others talents, learn how to agree to disagree, learn how to work with people you might not like that much, those are foundations to do whatever you want to do.”
But the messages didn’t just apply to the elementary school kids excited to play basketball with former NBA greats.
Fisher also had a piece of advice that extends to the Los Angeles Lakers young core.
“I think here in L.A. in particular, it’s not just the success of the teams in the past that has brought a connection between players and city, I truly believe that the fans here in LA, the people that support the team, feel like the players are a part of the community. I think that’s something that the current team, as well as developing on the court, wants to make sure that they continue to understand the commitment to being a part of this community as a whole, so that during the tough times the people here in this city will still have your back if they feel like you are a part of it.
That’s something that our teams tried to carry and James (Worthy’s) team as well, and I think this young team now, they have a few guys that have been here for a few years now and will hopefully feel like they are a part of this community and try to give back to it in a way that will last even after they stop bouncing a basketball.”