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Rockets in The Bahamas

Over the years, The Bahamas has become a regular stop for celebrities and professional athletes, whether on vacation or for a business trip.

The Miami Heat selected the capital island, specifically the Atlantis Resort, for its training camp ahead of the 2013-14 and 2016-17 National Basketball Association (NBA) seasons.

In recent times, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has been making annual trips. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade still take vacation in The Bahamas from time to time. NBA players with Bahamian backgrounds, Klay Thompson and Eric Gordon Jr., come down every year. It’s a no brainer that local players Chavano “Buddy” Hield and DeAndre Ayton will return home on a regular basis. NBA superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, along with Jayson Tatum, were spotted here last week.

Now, the Houston Rockets are in The Bahamas for the second year in a row.

The Rockets, led by reigning league Most Valuable Player (MVP) James Harden, arrived in The Bahamas on Sunday for a mini training camp. They will have closed practices on a daily basis for a week starting today at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium.

Senior Marketing Manager at the Ministry of Tourism Jeff Rodgers is spearheading the trip.

“This is something that started last year and they had a great experience and reached out to me. We were thrilled to accommodate them,” said Rodgers. “It was just up to us to make the necessary arrangements and facilitate their trip – just making sure everything is in place for them. They are very excited and happy to be here. They love the facility, have already fallen in love with The Bahamas, and are looking forward to coming back.”

The Rockets made a number of offseason moves, all in an effort to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the west and make a run at the NBA title.

The team re-signed Chris Paul, Gerald Green and Clint Capela, brought in free agents Michael Carter-Williams, James Ennis and Carmelo Anthony, and recently traded for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.

They appear to have an overloaded backcourt, but according to reports, it’s all in an effort to fit their style of play.

All of the major players are here in The Bahamas for the mini training camp. They will be here for a week, staying at the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar.

“This is a tourism initiative, but I have to give kudos to the National Sports Authority for ensuring the facility is up to standard. We’re working along with them to ensure that everything is in place,” said Rodgers. “The word is out about our reputation as a host nation. Also, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul are here every summer as a part of my camp, and their influence played a huge role in this initiative. They were able to tell the team what to expect here in The Bahamas. This is the place to be.”

The Jeff Rodgers Basketball Camp is held every summer. Past and present NBA players, including Gordon and Paul, come down every summer and are a part of the camp’s fun night. The fun night features a celebrity game with the past and present NBA players, and closes out the camp.

League MVP Harden embraces the foreign country gathering for his team. He said that it presents a great bonding moment for them, particularly for the new players on the team. He’s looking forward to possibly making it an annual trip.

“It’s extremely important,” he told Mark Berman of Fox Sports. “I think last year it was great for us because we kind of built our chemistry up before training camp, and then obviously adding Chris (Paul) and adding P.J. (Tucker), we got a year under our belt. Bringing other guys in, James (Ennis) and ‘Melo, just got to get them acclimated before training camp starts, something we need.”

Tucker, who emerged as a key player in the Rockets’ run to the best record in the league last year, and to within a game of advancing to the NBA Finals, said that the time together in The Bahamas will give them an opportunity to build chemistry.

“It’s everything, especially with adding new pieces, guys that are going to play a lot of minutes,” he told Berman. “Guys know each other. We’re friends. It’s a pivotal point, early on, so that we can get to know each other, on the court. It’s something we want to do for sure.”

Houston finished with an NBA-best win-loss record of 65-17 during the regular season and advanced to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in seven games.

The front office is hoping that offseason additions such as Anthony, Ennis and Carter-Williams offset the losses of Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Luc Mbah a Moute.

After spending this week in The Bahamas, the Rockets will return to Houston and begin preparation for the 2018-19 NBA season. The preseason gets underway on Tuesday October 2, and the regular season commences on Wednesday October 17.

Sports Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting
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