As he walked into the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium yesterday, Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard Klay Thompson was welcomed by screaming young fans as the 31st edition of the Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp continued. Klay’s father, Bahamian legend Mychal “Sweet Bells” Thompson, and brother Mychel Thompson, were also present.
They all spoke to the campers and took time to answer some of the questions fielded to them.
Klay told the campers that they cannot get better by themselves. He said that they need positive friends and supporters who will always push them to achieve more.
“No one can do it alone. I can’t do it by myself, Steph Curry can’t, Kevin Durant can’t… LeBron James tried and you see how hard it is,” said Klay as the campers erupted in laughter.
“It feels great to be here. This is always on my calendar every summer – to come to the Jeff Rodgers Camp. To see my family in the meantime and to receive all this love means so much. I love hanging out with the kids, talking to them. It does not have to be about basketball, it can be about life – showing them I am one of them. It gives me a lot of joy,” he said.
The elder Thompson, who was the first foreign-born player to be chosen number one overall in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft, told the campers to ensure they study and pay attention to academics if they want to become like Bahamian NBA players Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield and DeAndre Ayton, or Eric Gordon who also has Bahamian roots.
He also told the campers that once they have passion for something, even if it isn’t basketball, they could be successful in it. A camper asked him who was better – him or Klay? To which he responded: “Klay is 10 times the player that I was.” He said that compared to what he did in his career, Klay has already surpassed that.
“The thing is Klay is only halfway through. It has only been seven years, and he can play another seven or eight if he wants to. I told him to his face that his career has already lapped mine about four times. He’s got three championships and I got two. He got two gold medals, one World Cup gold medal and one Olympic gold. He is a four-time all-star. He is going to be, I believe, a hall of famer, so I would say Klay is about 10 times the player I was,” said the elder Thompson.
Mychal Thompson said it’s good to be home.
“I left here when I was 17 and I am 63 now. No matter how long I been away, every time I come home I feel like I am home. It is a joy to come home,” said Thompson. He said it is an honor to come home and be a part of the Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp experience each year.
Also in attendance yesterday was Haywoode Workman, a former NBA player turned referee. Haywoode was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1989, and said over the course of his officiating career he has ejected a coach but has still not ejected a player.
The other son, Mychel, told the campers about working hard. He spoke about his basketball career, playing in the NBA D-League, now called the NBA G-League. He spoke about playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011 on a non-guaranteed contract, and also spoke about coming to the camp almost every year and what it means to him.
“It feels great, and you can tell it means a lot to them (the kids). They’re just here having fun,” he said. “They don’t get to see too many NBA players so in seeing my dad, my brother and the rest of us, this is what you play basketball for.”
He said he would definitely be back next year. The Thompsons handed out gifts from Anta, Klay’s shoe and apparel endorser, to the campers.
Camp organizer Jeff Rodgers said this camp is to empower young people to believe in themselves.
“First let me thank God. This basketball camp is really to empower young people to believe in themselves and to let no one distract them from working hard to accomplish their dreams and goals,” said Rodgers.
He spoke about tonight’s fun night and is inviting the public to come out and see the campers showcase what they have learnt over the past month. Rodgers also mentioned that NBA players like Ayton and Klay will be there tonight. It will be held at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. The doors will open from 5:30 p.m. Rodgers thanks his many sponsors for their support.
The camp ends tomorrow.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism