Mashburn preaches unity through basketball

Updated: 2011-12-10 08:20

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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BEIJING - American and Chinese high school students were urged to get to know each other better through basketball on Friday.

Former NBA all-star forward Jamal Mashburn appeared at the Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) to launch the 16x16 Basketball Tournament, the tip-off event of a week-long campaign to boost Sino-US educational and cultural exchanges.

Mashburn also provided tips at a pre-game clinic. He shouted loud instructions to the teenagers at courtside, but he also wants to make his voice heard through expanding the game simply beyond competitions.

"Basketball to me is not only about the game, it's a vehicle to build relationships and help to analyze what you really want to accomplish in life," said the New York native, who was known as "Monster Mash" during his heyday playing for the Charlotte Hornets (now New Orleans Nornets) from 2000 to 2004.

Mashburn has also set an example for retired athletes by becoming a successful businessman and benefactor to needy causes after ending his 12-year NBA career with a stats line of 19.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Mashburn said he is thrilled to be part of bringing young players from China and the US together and also stressed sport's educatinal role.

"Kids from Boston would never have had the chance to meet Chinese students if they could not dribble a basketball that is what has carried them here to China. That's a remarkable feat and we want people to think about how far you can go by just learning from the game and treating people with kindness and humility," the 39-year-old said. "The best advice I can provide to kids who want to play sports is to use sports but don't let it use you. That's essentially how I've grown up."

Thanks to the joint efforts of the Americans for Promotion of Study Abroad (APSA) and the Beijing International Group (BIG), eight players from Boston-area high schools were invited to join another eight WAB and 16 Chinese high school students for an eight-team basketball tournament on Saturday.

"Today's activity is not about who loses or who wins everybody wins. It's about making new friends, opening a whole new door to another world and culture," said Tom McCarthy, Boston Celtics Asian scout and chairman of BIG.

Assisting Mashburn during the tournament will be former Chinese national forward Ma Jian, Suffolk University coach Jim Nelson, an ex-NCAA star at Boston College, and experienced local high school trainers.

The APSA week will culminate with a star-studded concert, which will feature Chinese and American artists, on Dec 17 at the National Indoor Stadium.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/10/2011 page15)