The Nationals and Del Harris in India
We recently held our national tournament in Delhi at the Thyagaraj Indoor Stadium. This is where the best teams from states all over India come into one venue and compete for the National Championship. There were over 50 men's and women's teams in all. For those basketball junkies it is a great week of games from 8:00 am until 9 pm every day. I also use this tournament, along with the other selection committee members, to evaluate talent and choose the players that will be invited to our senior national team training camp. It reminds me of my days as a college coach spending many hours watching high school players at summer AAU events around the US. I enjoyed that then, and still do today. There are much worse ways to make a living for someone that just loves basketball. Tamil Nadu captured the championship, with two of my national team players leading the way. (Riken Patheni, Pratham Singh) I was proud of Riken being honored as the MVP of the tournament and Pratham should have been included in that conversation as well. There will be other players from that team that will be included in the 20 players invited to our national team training camp.
One of the great privileges I had was to host Coach Del Harris during the week of the national tournament. As many of you know, Del is veteran of 36 years as a coach in the NBA, while serving as the head coach for the LA Lakers, Houston Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks. He was honored as the NBA Coach of the Year in 1995 and has been nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame. I had the privelege of working on his coaching staff when I was with the NBA Development League team of the Dallas Mavericks. I don't know anyone I've ever met that knows more about the game of basketball than Coach Harris. Not only did I learn so much from him as a coach, but he has also become a very good friend and mentor. He had a great deal to do with me getting this opportunity in India. While Del was in Delhi, we had a press conference with about 40 media people, the largest I have ever seen for a basketball event in India. He was also a guest of honor at the opening ceremony of the national tournament, where he greeted the crowd of over 1000 people. Coach Harris also conducted a 3 hour clinic for 200 coaches during the tournament. This was a tremendous opportunity for them to learn many practical concepts that they can implement on their teams.
On a free day, Chawn and I took Coach Harris, along with James Mathews and Coach Louis (ministry partners in south India), to Akshardham, which is one of the largest and most beautiful Hindu Temples in the world. The architecture is so detailed and all by hand. We had the rare opportunity to sit down and talk with the Swami of Akshardham. Ironically, he grew up in Houston, TX and was a huge Rockets fan when Del was the head coach. His story was quite unique on how he ended up over in India in his present position.
We are now back in the U.S. for a few weeks. I will update events here in a later blog.