Friday, February 25, 2011

Indan Basketball Adventures continue from Dharavi to Chennai!

Chennai return/ Suicide Pigeons

February 23, 2011

The Chennai Return

The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu is serious about their basketball. From the second Stephan and Mary invited me, I started rearranging my plans. I had to get back to the heartland of Indian hoops.

Initially, they had me training 35 kids at one time — on one half of a court while a state wide gymnastic competition was going on . . . chalta hai!

Then we went outside with the full-court – except it was too loud to coach and explain drills as a concert was taking place on the next court . . . chalta hai!

We started with, ‘lets make 25 shots and we will go to the next spot” then about 90 seconds later was thinking …’ok I hope we make one’ stopped drill , re-explained, taught everyone how to shoot properly. . . chalta hai!

Five coaches & three seperate age groups all looking learn everything there is to know about basketball in five days. . . chalta hai!

Continual shouts of “everyone over here…everyone over, here…everyone over here”. . . chalta hai!

Suicide Pigeons


And then all the sudden, while teaching the coaches the 2 – 2 – 1 Zone.

A large thud!!!! BOOM !!!! 5 feet behind me.

The following conversation takes place:

JD, “What the…..”

“Coach, that is beautiful thing, Coach” All the coaches nodding in agreement.

JD ‘Is that a, a ,a, a dead bird? ‘ (thinking thank God it just didn’t land on top of me )<

“thats Suicide Pigion, only coach”

JD ” ohhh kay . . . Suicide . . .What? Did you say????”

“Suicide Pigion coach. Her partner must expired, coach so she decided her time is complete. – It is good and beautiful thing, Sir.”

He whistles and demonstrated a perfect pigeon nose dive with his right hand, and
finishes by making a ‘thud sound’.

I look at all the coaches, they nod in agreement. It’s good thing coach, don’t worry. “

JD “I guess…..On with the rebirth…. and, back to basketball”

Only in India. . .and on with the rebirth…..

SDAT again! awesome! CHENNAI – great place – basketball capital of india — the thought keeps me pushing along to the next moment!

The bigger picture – the rebirth of self, the reason of why am I destined here , thought of epics and the past creeps in, I get extra motivated in the moment. Then I peer over and see a cross over, a perfect shot . a dose of adrenlyn and spirit over takes me! Coaches will tell you, there is few feelings as great as getting into that coaching rhythym. . .

One hi- lite was the use of modern technology as we brought legendary former NBA Head Coach, Don Casey via Skype to talk zone defense.

It was sad to leave SDAT program completed – another great success! A special thank you to maam Mary, Stephen David all the kids and of course the coaches, K Subburaj Hostel Of Excellance Chennai. Ramasubramania Raja NLC Neyveli Sports Hostel K Prabu, Sports Hostel Madurai P.Muthuraja BVC School Erode Manivasagam S A I Chennai and the Boss…John Daniel… will never forget you guys!

Last but not least, A special thank you to the folks at NIKE INDIA and NIKE Global (especially Goro N, George R , Mike F. & Mike H) for sponsoring our program and sending us the fresh coaching gear!

See you next time!

In love + Peace + Basketball+ evolution….From Bharat….



Indiana, I mean India basketball travels . . .


security guards in Rajasthan

While waiting in lobby before a meeting at the US Embassy, I had this interaction with a security guard.

- “Which country do you belong, Sir?”

- Of course, I say “America”

- To which he says, “Do you live in Indiana?

- Of course, I ask why? I ask and think at the same time, why is he asking me, has he been there? Does he have family there? Because the Ambassador Roemer (technically kind of his boss) is from Indiana?”

- Then with a big smile says, “No, Indiana must have a lot of Indians in Indiana – Sir, India / Indiana” . . .

- Was he joking? Worthy of a head bobble thats for sure.

Only in Indiana.. I mean India…hey, both have great basketball, yaar :)


Indian Basketball Adventures continue…. Savio Cup

Savio Cup

First off, what can I say, I love Bombay basketball! The atmosphere, the characters, the movement.

While we were running around Dharavi, down the road in Matunga at Don Bosco was the 6th annual Savio Cup.

How can I not love the community that houses the same crew that was there on my first Bombay clinic August in 2007.

This is the fourth straight year I have made it to the prestigious Savio Cup @ Don Bosco School. There’s nothing like an Indian on stilts trying to dunk a basketball and 12 yr old kids trying their best Bollywood impressions to a Punjabi background beat. Divinity works in amazing ways!

The basketball is ever improving and it was a great tournament and in the end it was Indian Railways — the best team in India – coached by arguably the best coach in India Ram Kumar and best young player in India, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi who beat the makeshift American team (lead by 43 year old Marathon man, David Jones) in an exciting game. The womans side was taken by who else but, Southern Railways Geethu Anna Jose + friends.

Gheetu Anna Jose - the best Indian Womans basketball player of all -time

I also took a chance to check in with some of the Indian basketball personalities and talk about the tournament:

How can you not love a community that talks all week about the Sunday morning game (that I finally came out of retirement and made an appearance too). Joining me was the same crew that was there on my first Bombay clinic August in 2007.

 Sunday morning crew - bombay

The Sunday morning crew

It was nice to see all the old friends and some new.

Father Crispini, Father Bosco, MV, Harish, the Sunday Morning Don Bosco Crew, Vinod, Minoj, Aparna, Babo, AB, Govind, Prashant, NBA’s Troy Justice and Akash Jain, Jai, and of course, the effervescent Ms. Malini! (Sorry if I missed anyone!)


Indian Basketball Adventures continue…. Dharavi

The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. I dedicate this blog and blessings to Vishnu and Krishna, thank you for guidance on this incredible journey.


The energy in Dharavi is intoxicating, people moving, working, running, recycling, climbing, and building – the colors and smells swarm and take you in. Two boys with paper bags over their heads (and eyes and mouth cut out) jumped down off a wall and said – na na na na na na na na Batman! Its such a vibrant community of over 1million people, it breaks my heart to see there is no play station for the kids. That wall and a few recycle bins is all they have.

Finally after 3 ½ years of trying to find a way to appease a sponsor to build a basketball court for us, Jockin and I were excited to find our project finalists for an Architecture for Humanity grant award. If we win, we will have the capital to build a court and start a trust to ensure a play station and conduct daily basketball training for the youth.

It was thru this dream turn effort, I found myself scouting spaces and scurring around the Dharavi community with A4H’s Michael Jones who came in from San Francisco.

We are still in midst of coming to find out if we win, so a million (+ 1 ) fingers are crossed!

To learn more about this endeavor please click here:

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