New Delhi: 4-time NBA All-Star and former NBA Champion Shawn Marion visited Delhi’s ITL Public School, Dwarka and spent time with the kids for the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA Program. Having landed in Mumbai on 30th November for a 5-day visit, Marion flew down to Delhi on the morning of 2nd December. Also present at the program was Carlos Barroca, Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations, NBA India.
The school’s girls and boys team had the unique opportunity to do some drills under the guidance of the towering 6 foot 7 Marion who chimed in with handy advice which the young ballers readily soaked in. Marion interacted with hundreds of students present at the event and also answered their questions. One of the highlights of the day was when a child who was invited to ask Shawn a question, instead requested him to show them all a slam dunk. Marion was initially reluctant but the he persisted. The crowed joined him and started chanting “Dunk…Dunk”. Marion eventually gave in and obliged, much to the crowd’s pleasure.
Ekalavyas’ Kabir Saxena had the opportunity to speak with both Shawn Marion and Carlos Barocca after the clinic.
Here are the excerpts-
Q. Were you at all surprised to see the popularity basketball has gained outside the States, especially in India?
Marion – It’s interesting you say that. I’m actually not, because I played in the Rookie Sophomore Challenge in 2000 you could see how global basketball is because of all the media that comes to that. And you don’t even see how crazy the media is until you get to the Finals. You see that almost every country is represented by their media. I’m glad to see that first hand, to come here, and to see what is being done, all the kids that have been playing, it’s pretty awesome. It has reached almost 3 million kids, that’s awesome. So I can see it growing. Getting bigger and bigger every year.
Carlos – As you know, we have things that are working very well. We have 2 games a day on Sony Six. There was a time when there were no games on TV so now everyday people can see the best players in the world and be inspired by them. We have also recently launched an academy in India. A lot of times people ask what is next for the 2-3 million kids we have on the program. We are trying to bring our best resources to help kids from India to have a dream. This is not just about making NBA players, this is about making life better for them and their families. These kids will be taken care of, both in school and on the court.
Q. What are your thoughts about the future of Indian basketball, especially since Satnam Singh and Palpreet Singh have made it to the NBA D-League? (Palpreet was subsequently waived by NBA D-League team Long Island Nets)
Marion – I see no reason we can’t see future NBA players coming from India and the population being as big as it is, here, hopefully you can have a couple of them in the NBA. I think it’s bound to happen.
Carlos – You know, we wish we could have had Palpreet when he was 15 years old, because everybody loves him in the United States. He is with the Long Island Nets, they love him, they want to keep him there, they want him to practice hard. He needs to close the gap between the rhythm that he plays here and the rhythm that he plays there. I am proud of him.
Q. What would be your advice to young players here that are aspiring to play basketball professionally?
Marion – I have a big emphasis on practice. I used to practice all the time, watch film, watch myself, watch people who were the top 5 at my position, coming into the league. I was a student of the game. I can actually watch film of myself and realise what mistakes I have made, so I actually kinda coached myself when I came in. But I’m a competitor. I always believe in challenges and challenging myself to do better. The hardest part for now is, you can’t coach instincts. You can try to put the players in the right position to see something happen on the court but if you can’t really sense it, you can’t react to it on your own, you can’t really coach that. And that’s one thing people don’t understand when they are talking about coaching. The players must have the tenacity and the instincts of the game to make the game simple. It’s a team sport so I think it’s a great way to bridge the gap between a lot of different avenues, different areas, different cultures and I think it’s a fun event for the family to enjoy.
Q. Shawn, you’ve been holding clinics across the world now, having gained that experience, do you think coaching is a possible future for you?
Marion – I don’t know if I wanna coach. It’s very demanding, especially at the NBA level. It’s a hard job. Kids are a lot easier, you can really teach them the game. Being an NBA coach, it’s a full time job. I don’t have that drive, I couldn’t do that. Coaches come before the players and they leave after the players. Everyday. And there’s no off season. (laughs)
Q. You’ve always had a very unique shooting motion. What would you say to kids who try to imitate other player’s shooting motion rather than working on their shot?
Marion – Nobody in the league shoots the same. If you work on it, and you perfect it, that’s all that matters. As long as you make shots, more power to it.
Q. Who is your current favourite player?
Marion – Russell Westbrook.
Q. You’ve had stints with a couple of teams throughout your career. Which team did you most enjoy playing for?
Marion – That’s a hard question. Obviously, I won a championship with Dallas. But I played 8 and a half years in Phoenix. And that’s where I got my nickname – The Matrix. Every team I played on was a different phase of my career. So when I left Phoenix, there was an adjustment period to go to Miami, then to go to Toronto. Then I found another home in Dallas where I was fortunate enough to win a championship. Then when I went to Cleveland, I was on my way out. I was just looking for another possible chance to compete for a championship and I was able to do that, but we came up short and I decided to hang ‘em up.
Q. What’s next for Shawn Marion?
Marion – Be a father first. I have a 2 and a half year old son. I probably could’ve played a couple more years but I decided to retire early because I was missing things with my son. Pictures don’t do enough. When you actually see your son changing every day, that’s pretty awesome, that’s pretty special. You can’t put a price on that.
From Delhi, Marion travelled to Mumbai again to inaugurate the 2nd edition of the ACG NBA Jump Program at Mumbai University Indoor Basketball Stadium, Kalina. The first edition of the ACG NBA Jump Program had seen India’s Palpreet Singh get selected and make it all the way to the NBA D-League. Marion also made an appearance on Sony Six’s Sunday morning show – NBA Around the Hoop on 4th December.
About Shawn Marion
Shawn Dwayne Marion is a retired professional basketball player who played 16 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Marion was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1999 with the ninth overall pick and remained with the Suns until midway through the 2007–08 season when he was traded Marion to the Miami Heat, who then traded Marion to the Toronto Raptors for the 2008–09 season. In 2009, Marion was traded again and joined the Mavericks and was the team’s starting small forward when the Mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011. After his stint in Dallas, Marion also played 1 season for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2014-15 season after which he announced his retirement.