Taj Gibson: The trip was very humbling for me. Going around and seeing everybody throughout the city, seeing the workers, all these people working crappy jobs, out there on their knees building buildings, fixing pavement. But every time they see you they smile, they show you respect, they bow their head no matter what. Any time of day. You can be the richest guy, the poorest guy. Everybody bows their head and shows respect no matter what. It was real humbling for me to see that. I can take some of that back to the states and also use it for my own benefit. I had a great time. All the sightseeing, going to the mall, learning new dialects, learning a new language. One of my favorite words is sa-wat-dee, like hello, good morning. The people. They smile so hard when I say it. They are so happy I know a little bit of Thai. It was a real humbling experience. I’m looking forward to coming back in the future. I met so many different Americans who moved over here and are so happy and appreciative of the way people are here.”
Taj Gibson: I had a good morning workout and we waited until about 1 p.m. to go to the gym. I knew it was a big day because they said all week they were going to make cuts. But I didn’t anticipate the intensity of it. When I got there the kids were all smiles until the names were being called. They had to make the cuts for the big final 20 and after the 20 they were going to make another cut to the final 10 to14. It was tough. As the guys were calling out the names, I was just sitting back. I was watching the reaction on these kids’ faces. A lot were really disappointed; a lot of them were crying. That kind of took me back to when I was little because of never making a team, going through that heartache and pain. But it was a good heartache and pain because it makes you work harder, to want you to fuel your fire that you want to be successful. I kind of did that with a lot of the kids.
We went to the Sky Box (63rd floor bar in the Sirocco restaurant in the lebua all suite luxury hotel). It’s where they (filmed scenes) from the movie Hangover Part II. It was an amazing view. Then we went to the U.S. ambassador’s house for a reception. The ambassador’s house was a big, old school, great kind of mansion. Ambassador Kristie (Kenney) is a Washington Wizards fan. But she knows all about sports and was really nice to me and my family. We talked all night and she really knows the game even for a lady. It was great. It was just a great day around the Thai people.”
Taj Gibson: “I worked out this morning. I stayed with my regimen of weights. Then we had the tip off ceremony for the National Training Camp, which was great. We went back for our first day and got to meet and be with all the kids. They were great kids. I talked to a lot of them and it was a lot of fun and interesting because so many spoke multiple languages. There really were a lot of kids there with a lot of talent. One kid caught my eye; plays exactly like Jeremy Lin. Had a great jump shot, very smart on the court. I think there’s a lot of talent here and they are just learning. Then we got a chance to walk around Bangkok, which is the capital. Walking around and seeing the sites and enjoying some good and different food was fun. We got to meet some great local people. There’s a lot of respect (for the NBA). I did go get a foot massage; that was great. I really needed it really bad (with all the coaching and walking around). It was an amazing experience. We got to see some of the nightlife.
The National Basketball Association will host its first-ever event in Thailand with the NBA 3-on-3 Thailand 2011 presented by Singha Drinking Water, the league announced yesterday. Featuring Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, the NBA 3-on-3 Thailand 2011 will take place in Bangkok at CentralWorld on Sept 10 and 11. The competition, which will provide youth with an opportunity to hone their basketball skills and compete amongst their peers, is open to 11-19-year-old boys and girls and also features a division for adult men. Registration began yesterday at Central Plaza Pin Klao, Central Plaza Bang Na and CentralWorld on a first come first serve basis and runs until Sept 6.
Mullin, who played for the Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers, was a five-time NBA All-Star (1989-1993) and won two Olympic gold medals in 1984 1992 with the USA team. He will make appearances and interact with fans through clinics and community events. “I’m really looking forward to visiting Thailand and taking part in the NBA’s first event in the country,” Mullin said in a statement. “I have heard great things about Thailand and can’t wait to meet the fans and work with them on developing their basketball skills during my trip.”
CNNGo: What brought you here? Ike: I was on a touring team in China when a friend who was teacher in Bangkok suggested that kids in Thailand would love to hear my story. I came to Bangkok to speak to students at my friend’s basketball camp and I fell in love with the country. Participating in the camp showed me how much raw talent was here and I wanted to be someone who brought those fundamental skills to players here. Fortunately, my arrival coincided with the beginning of the Asean Basketball League and I stayed and played with the Thailand Tigers in the inaugural league while I set up my coaching program.
Show up in your average Bangkok community with a basketball and it won’t be long before residents put it on the ground and start kicking it back and forth. Such is the nature of sport in Thailand, where even a distant relative of volleyball, sepak takraw, is played primarily with the feet. So how do you get people in a football-crazy nation enthusiastic about basketball? This is the challenge facing Ike Nwankwo, a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player who’s been spreading his passion for the sport in Bangkok through his Top Flight basketball school and new men’s league.