By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
As they sat in a wrap session before 63 young players from nine Caribbean countries at the Digicel NBA Elite Camp on Saturday at the Multipurpose Sports Complex, seven times NBA champion Robert Horry, 1977 champ and ex coach Lionel Hollins and current WNBA Dallas Wings All Stars guard Skylar Diggings, were asked what it’s like to play in the NBA–something each of the players dreamed of.
“It’s like going to a concert with bands in some arenas, a big celebration for the fans to come and be entertained,” Hollins said. “For me, when they blow the whistle, you go out and hear the national anthem, do the introductions I start getting chill bumps. I know I can’t play anymore, but I get excited to be part of the game and I hope the players are excited as well, because you’re doing what you love to do, and now its on a huge stage in front of 18,000, 19,000 fans screaming your name or booing your name, either way is fun—a great atmosphere.”
Horry said he has been blessed to play on a lot of great teams and said when you’re on a team, it’s a family—an outside family.
“What you have to do is respect one another, be able to learn and understand your teammates,” he said. “When I was in San Antonio, I played with players from all over the world and you could call it an international team—France, Argentina, St. Croix—all these guys from different nations, but we had one thing. We treated each other with respect. We respected what they brought to the game and what the brought outside the game.”
He noted that in Los Angeles all the stars came out and it had people coming out to see the stars while the stars came out to see them play. He said he also played in arenas where he didn’t want to go like like Utah and Denver where it’s lonely, dark and cold.
“The thing about it, it’s like what Coach Hollins said, it all boils down to the game and what you bring to the court. If you bring a good product, the atmosphere will be tenacious,” he noted. “I’ve played with the Lakers, I’ve played with the Spurs, I’ve played with the Rockets and we all had huge followings. The people came out and wanted to see us win, yet the wanted to see us loose. Everybody wants to see the big dog go down and the attitude was always crazy.”
Horry said that attitude that the fans brought made players that much better. “I don’t think sometimes, we as athletes credit fans for the success that we have on the court,” he said. “That energy that they bring. That atmosphere where they’re going bananas, that comforts us and make us feel much better and perform better. The atmosphere is always crazy, always fantastic, it’s just a wonderful place to be and hopefully, some of you all here will be a part of that some day.”
Diggins who has also played in national championships games, said you never know who’s coming out the game, or who’s watching you for the first time.