DALLAS – When Seth Curry thought about developing a summer basketball camp for kids, he knew he wanted to challenge them to tap into their mental capacity, not just into their athletic abilities.
Thus, in order to become one of the 100 kids chosen to participate in the free one-day Seth Curry Jr. NBA Camp, the campers had to submit an essay on why they should be the one chosen for this very special camp. Hundreds of applications were filed and read by Curry, who personally hand-picked the final 100 kids.
“I wanted to put on a back-to-school clinic for underprivileged kids to come out here for a free day of basketball to learn from me and the great coaches here,” Curry said. “The kids had to write a short essay on why they wanted to come to the camp, and my team and I read through them and picked out the 100 kids that were going to come.“
“I feel like I have a connection to each one of these kids who came, I know a little bit about their story. Not really by their face, but just reading their essays and knowing what some of the kids are going through and why they wanted to be here and how much they love basketball.”
The camp, held September 9 at the Dallas Mavericks’ practice facilities, is dear to Curry’s heart. His father, Dell Curry, played in the NBA from 1986-2002 and was known for hosting basketball camps for kids.
“My dad put on a camp for kids like this every year for pretty much his whole 16-year career, so I was able to watch what he did and wanted to have one of these (camps) myself growing up,” Curry said. “I came to camps like these as a kid and it was a lot of fun. They were some of my greatest memories growing up.”
“I’m fortunate to be able to flip the roles and be able to teach these kids.”
Shortly after the camp started, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle popped in and spoke to the kids. He also invited kids to tell the group of campers why they wanted to be a part of Curry’s camp.
“Coach Carlisle was talking to the kids and one kid came up and was explaining how he wanted to come so bad because he wasn’t able to do anything this summer with his family because they had to move and were looking for a house, so they weren’t able to go on vacation,” Curry said. “I was fortunate enough to put on this camp and it’s probably his bright spot of the summer before he goes back to school.”
The importance of the Jr. NBA Camp isn’t lost on Carlisle, who doubles as the president of the NBA Coaches Association.
“The Jr. NBA is a really important initiative in the league office,” Carlisle said. “It’s really important to the Coaches Association and it’s great to see guys like Seth Curry taking the lead and having a camp like this.”
“When I spoke to a few of the kids, their essay topics were wide-ranging, but all very sincere. So it’s a really cool thing.”
Ben Hunt, the manager of camps and community basketball for the Mavs, said it was cool for Curry to be thought-provoking and have the kids create an essay to gain entry into the camp.
“Having a clinic like this with Seth and the Mavs Basketball Academy coaches is just a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be here with us at this world-class practice facility,” Hunt said. “And as part of the Jr. NBA, we can help them develop confidence, team work and have a lot of fun.”
“Each and every one of these kids came in with different experiences. They had to go through the application process, and obviously they did a wonderful job because they’re here. And it was tremendous, too, that Seth took the time to read each and every one of those essays, and now they’re here and they get this opportunity – it’s really special.”
At the camp, the kids learned everything from ball-handling, dribbling and passing skills, to the ideal form utilized to shoot a basketball.
“Another important part of the game now is playing without the basketball, and that’s agility,” Hunt said. “Using their foot work, getting some foot speed and being able to maneuver through defenses and be more comfortable with a ball in their hands when that time comes.”
“We have some kids here who may play the game. We have some kids here who this may be the first time they’ve picked up a basketball. But they love the Mavs and they love Seth Curry and they love what we’re doing.”
Curry loves the fact that he’s touching lives in a positive way, changing attitudes and making a lasting difference in the community.
“First of all, I just wanted them to have fun and have good memories,” Curry said. “You want to teach them drills and you want them to get better at basketball. But they’re at the age where they just want to have fun and just be around the kids and be around NBA players like myself, and have good memories. I just want them to go to school next week and tell their friends they had a good time at this camp, and that will be a success for me.”
Before headed back on the court to work with the kids, Curry mentioned the difficult process of narrowing that list down to 100 campers.
“It was going to be 100 kids no matter how many people applied or tried to come,” he said. “It was just me reading through whichever ones I liked. Some of the kids are going through hard times off the court with their family, some of the kids were explaining how much they love basketball and how bad they want to be here. It just depended on how they wrote it and what message they were trying to give off. There were a lot of great stories from the kids who are at this camp and I’m glad we could create this special day for them.”