By Kevin Callahan
Kyle Hines had been playing professional basketball overseas for three years when his younger brother, Tyler, went abroad to play.
“I remember one time Tyler called me from the grocery store because he didn’t know what to buy, everything was in a different language,” Kyle said.
That experience and similar ones are the reason Kyle started the “My Hoop Journey” website. He wanted a way to keep other American players overseas connected by sharing their experiences. Tyler is a contributing writer.
“You experience different things, like going to a restaurant and not knowing how to order, or not having the right equipment, or watching TV in a foreign language,” added Kyle, a South Jersey native who was named the EuroLeague Best Defender last year.
“I think it’s all stories that are definitely interesting and a lot of people can learn.”
The Hines Brothers both scored over 1,000 points at Timber Creek High School before playing Division I basketball. They both majored in communications. Now they are using their social media skills to connect players overseas.
“Going into your rookie season, you don’t know what to expect, the small things like what to bring, if you have the right outlets to bring with you, the right pair of shoes,” Tyler said.
Tyler, 27, plays for Enosis Neon Paralimni of the Cyprus Basketball Division I League.
“When you are going out of the country you’re not going to a different state, you are going out of the country,” Tyler emphasized. “So you are joining another country’s culture, another country’s tradition, so you have to learn.”
“A lot of players don’t know what to bring, so it helps that way too.”
Kyle, 30, signed a two-year extension in June with CSKA Moscow in the VTB United League. The power forward won a pair of EuroLeague championships playing for Olympiacos in the Greek League in 2012 and 2013. But he knows there is more to know than what happens on the court.
“We bridge that gap between international basketball and basketball here in the USA,” Kyle said about “My Hoop Journey.”
Kyle was a four-year starter for UNC-Greensboro where he averaged 19.2 points and 9.1 rebounds a game for the Spartans.
At Timber Creek, Kyle averaged 23.5 points as a senior and finished his career with 1,562 points.
Kyle Hines touts the website as “a place for all of those involved or interested in basketball around the world.” He stresses how anyone can use the internet to find stats and standings as well as watch YouTube highlights or stream games live from remote cites around the world, but his mission is to “shed light on the unseen parts of the basketball journey” – like his brother Tyler trying to buy food.
Now Tyler is using his experiences to help others.
“I wrote three of the stories when I was in Cyprus last year. It was great,” said Tyler, who graduated from Maryland Eastern-Shore, where he was the Most Valuable Player for the Hawks.
Kyle understands how the lack of long-term contracts, various offensive styles and a wide variety of living and travel conditions present the international player with real and unique challenges.
He has seen how players – known as Journeymen and Globetrotters – bounce around from team to team and country to country. And although this instability makes for anxious
At times, these players are filled with “priceless experiences.”
“And also there are stories of motivation and inspiration,” Kyle said. “A lot of guys start on lower levels and three or four years later, they’re making massive amount of money and have massive amount of opportunities.”
“We see that all the time, so that’s also what the site is about.”
Kyle states how he has seen young players “ruin potentially lucrative careers” by simply not being properly prepared. He boasts his site is an avenue to “experience life overseas through the eyes of the athletes who live it.”
“What were trying to do with the site is try to give players an opportunity to have a voice,” Kyle said. “A lot of guys write about what they’re doing on the court, about their stats, about their wins and losses, but a lot of guys have Foundations and we want to give them the opportunity to showcase that stuff and their brands, and if they don’t have a brand, to let people know who they are.”
The Hines Brothers know compelling stories grow the fan base of not only their site, but also the game overseas.
“I think our friends we know from here have become more acclimated and have become fans of European basketball,” Kyle said.
“We have talked to fans that never watched a basketball game in Europe and now they have become fans and know the players. So I think it’s a site for the fans as well.
“I think it’s for non-European fans, too, because every basketball player has a story.”
They both are connected with some Sixers players like Dario Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Furkan Korkmaz from playing abroad.
“We are actually friends with a lot of the guys we work out together,” Tyler said. “We all keep in touch. Timothe came to our camp last year.”
The Hines Brothers used to go to Sixers’ youth camps when they were young and growing up in Sicklerville. Now they run Team Hines Basketball Academy (THBA) with Timber Creek boys’ basketball coach Rich Bolds.
THBA offers clinics, individual instruction and developmental programs.
“We also have guest speakers from the Sixers,” Kyle said.
THBA has a fundraiser and takes about 50 kids to a 76ers game.
“Growing up, we didn’t really go to an NBA game until middle school or high school, so we want to give these kids an opportunity to go to an NBA game and get that experience,” Kyle said. “It is different than watching it on TV from actually being there and getting an opportunity to meet an NBA player. It’s a great experience and an inspiration.”
“Not everyone’s going to the NBA, but you can use sports as a vehicle to get you where you want to go,” Kyle continued. “We’re trying to show them that sports can be a vehicle.”
And the Hines Brothers are using their social media skills as a vehicle to connect players and fans with basketball overseas, and foreign players with the NBA.
“A lot of people don’t think about the transition coming here from home,” Tyler said, seeing the flipside of his experience buying groceries in Greece. “It’s hard to expect them to know everything, especially in the NBA where everything goes so quick.”