D'Angelo Russell (Ohio State/LA Lakers) made a positive move yesterday by coming to the KPA and play in the city of Louisville. He put a glow on everyone's face when he took the court yesterday. Probably around 250 fans attended the KPA Semi-Finals and Finals yesterday at Beth Haven Christian, but he inspired a city to me in several ways. A city that is in desperate need for inspiration in the sport of basketball in my opinion. Also a city that needs to look at getting behind events that can really unite the city and put some professionals in the spot light to be in front of our youth who are in desperate need of a vision of what can be. The KPA is for professional, college, and aspiring professional players but it is an event that can be great for the youth to see REAL ball players play, and to show them that anything can happen with hard work and making the right decisions. My vision for the KPA started 20 years ago and it was much bigger than basketball, and yesterday was a major start in the right direction for the city of Louisville.
Russell gave his MVP plaque away and signed it, and in the background look at how attentive these young people are watching Russell take the team champion picture. This picture summarizes what he did yesterday at the KPA. As the director, I have much respect for what he did and the attitude he did it with. He didn't complain because that we were using a FIBA Basketball (Official overseas game ball), or the fact the gym does not have air, he just played. From my experience over the years running this event, all the guys that can really play are this way. They RESPECT THE GAME and what it has done for them, and play because they LOVE it. This is what happened yesterday at the KPA. It is the same reason I continue to try to put the event together.
Look at this team picture! The inspiration he gave these guys was off the charts. All are excellent players and aspiring pros looking for an opportunity in the world of overseas basketball. All were solid college players but now are trying to get to that level that they are paid for what they do. It is a difficult process, but I would bet all can not wait to get in the gym and get better after the experience they had yesterday at the Kentuckiana Pro Am. Russell dropped some passes to these guys that looked like Magic Johnson at times. Happy for these guys to get the opportunity and now hopefully they will look to give back in their own way daily in this community to the youth.
Thanks to the Media who covered the entire event. Also thanks to the stations that gave him POSITIVE attention and did not just focus on his mistake last year. He did something very positive yesterday for the city. Some quality coverage in the above video, and Russell gave major props to Louisville.
In summary, people who really do not love or understand what the game of basketball can do for all areas of a community do not understand the impact he made yesterday. The KPA has the leverage now to really do big things next summer not only in basketball but in giving our youth and young adults a vision of what can be. However, it will require people coming together to do FREE clinics for youth, and character building sessions. The vision is huge but so many want to get involved for financial purposes and not the true development of the youth. My opinion and I am treading lightly with some things I really want to say. The city and state need to come together in the overall development of players and also understanding what high quality basketball in a city such as Louisville in the summer can do for the community. For 20 years I have tried to get people to see it, but the VISION of the KPA is HUGE.
Thanks to everyone who came to the games this year and to D'Angelo Russell (Los Angeles Lakers) and Shelvin Mack (Utah Jazz) for playing. Also a big thanks to all the players that played in the KPA, it was a special 7 days.