Q&A: Gordon Hayward in the Philippines
Jazz forward Gordon Hayward joined WNBA legend Tina Thompson for Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines. From April 25-27, the two served as coaches and instructors at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila for a national training camp. The training camp was the culmination of the Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA program for the top 50 boys and top 24 girls from their respective regions. The camp focuses on teaching core values of sportsmanship, teamwork, a positive attitude and respect for the game.
Gordon answered some questions from UtahJazz.com towards the end of his trip...
Did you ever think you'd be teaching basketball to kids of the Philippines?
I never thought I would come to the Philippines to do that, no. It was a cool idea that was brought to me and I decided to take the opportunity.
Why did you agree to do it?
I had never been to the Philippines, so it was a chance for me to come to a new country. Also, any time you get the chance to give back and teach basketball to kids you’ve gotta jump all over that.
You grew up in arguably the basketball capital of the world. How cool is it to see the game of basketball reach this far?
It’s very cool. Especially with how passionate the Filipinos are towards basketball. They love the game here and it’s been a cool experience.
What is it like to teach the game with communication barriers?
Honestly a lot of it is hands on, so when you teach the kids most of basketball is universal. You can show them with your body and demonstrate things. They’ve been very perceptive and good at watching what I do and emulating that.
Have you seen any differences in the game in the Philippines? Skills, fundamentals, strategy, teamwork, etc.?
The differences I’ve seen is they add a lot of flair to everything they do. One-handed layups, double clutches, a lot of fancy dribbling.
The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA promotes Sportsmanship, Teamwork, positive Attitude and Respect…how do you best teach these important characteristics?
The best way is by example. The kids look up to us so if we display those values when we play the game, they see that.
Not too long ago, you were in these kids' shoes. How important is it to learn the right way to play at a young age?
It’s very important. Bad habits can easily be formed when you’re younger. To have someone come and teach you the right way to play puts you on the right track when you’re little. It’s easier to learn things at a younger age.
The game of basketball is such a pure thing with kids. They don't play for money or fame, but for the love of the game. Has that childlike love given you a new perspective on your game or career?
It definitely does when you go to place like this. You see the kids play with joy and play with passion. There are certain times during the season when the game is a job. When you come here and see the kids and the smiles just by being on the court, it gives you a new motivation and new inspiration.
Personally, what have you gotten out of this experience?
I’ve gotten a new respect for Filipino’s and the way they play basketball. I didn’t know too much about the talent they had here or how they play hoops. Their youth teams are very good and the talent is only getting better. I think there will be a Filipino in the NBA soon.
Outside of the clinics, have you had a chance to be a tourist at all? Any favorite spots?
They’ve been keeping us pretty busy here but we’ve had a chance to go shopping and that was a cool experience. Being around the people and just seeing their way of life is cool.
How have you enjoyed the food? Did you step out of your comfort zone or did you manage to find a Subway/Olive Garden?
The food has been good here. I haven’t tried too many of the ethnic dishes. We are supposed to try some good Filipino dishes but I haven’t yet. But I also haven’t had Olive Garden or Subway either.
When you think back on this experience, what will be the lasting memory?
The kids. Getting the opportunity to teach them and help them become better basketball players.