Former NBA all-star Allan Houston, now the current assistant general manager of the New York Knicks, his father Coach Wade Houston, and iStar Charity Shootout host the kick-off event to the Five Borough Basketball Tour in New York City for fathers and sons and mentors and mentees, stressing the importance of having a strong, male role model in a child's life.
On Saturday, October 15, the indoor track at the historic Armory on the Hudson was transformed into a basketball court where kids and their parents and mentors made a day of running drills, competing in shootouts and dunk contests, watching the Harlem Wizards, and playing ball alongside NBA stars, as part of the kick-off event for the Five Borough Basketball Tour.
In a collaborative effort by Allan Houston's Father Knows Best program and iStar Charity Shootout, the tour strives to emphasize the importance of having positive, male role models in a child's life by fostering a place where parents and their children can spend quality time together in a day of friendly competition.
After a 45-minute basketball clinic, former New York Knicks all-star Allan Houston, now the assistant general manager of the team, and workshop adviser Paul Bryant addressed the group of 200-plus participants, mostly young boys ranging from 8-17 years old, with some down-to-earth talk.
"A mentor is someone who cares," Bryant said. "True happiness comes when you find your gift. As a father, a mentor, and as a coach, it is our job to help you find out what your gift is. You need someone to speak greatness into you."
At one point, Bryant called his 14-year-old son to the front of the crowd and publicly declared his love and commitment to him. "I see you," he stressed. "I want you to know that as you reach your goals, as you grow, it is on these shoulders [of mine] that you'll be standing." The directness of his declaration-as he stared right into his son's eyes-made a few of the older boys snigger, likely out of embarrassment, but the interchange was one of the more powerful moments in a day filled with fun and basketball. As Bryant said, "We want you to walk away from today with more than just a T-shirt."
To the mentors and parents in the room, he advised, "Do not take it for granted that [your child] knows how you feel."
Two young boys run across the court at the kick-off event for the Five Borough Basketball Tour, a collaboration between iStar Charity Shootout and Allan Houston's Father Knows Best program that encourages fathers and sons and mentors and mentees to spend quality time together, beginning with some fun on the court.Photo courtesy of Monica A. Schipper Photography.
Strengthening Bonds Through Sports
Playing sports like basketball is a way to help build strong bonds between parents and their kids. Jay Sugarman, the event's founder and chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, plays sports with his two young sons while teaching them important life lessons.
"We're learning together the joys of winning and also learning how to lose gracefully," Sugarman said. "The time we spend together is one of the most important things I can do in life...to really become a role model for them. It's a tragedy that a lot of the kids are growing up without that [father] figure."
Through Father Knows Best and the shootout event, Sugarman hopes the kids were able to see that there are a lot of people who care about them, who want to give them a chance, and who want them to be great.
The event's founder and chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, Jay Sugarman, takes a break with two kick-off event participants. Photo courtesy of Patrick McMullan.
Growing Up with a Strong Father-Figure
To illustrate the importance of growing up with a male role model to look up to, the program paused to show a video of NBA star Dennis Rodman's Hall of Fame speech in which he described his regret of not being a good father to his three kids.
Rodman's feeling of regret is something the National Tour Director of Father Knows Best, Miko Horn, works to resolve within the communities throughout the U.S., an initiative she has been a part of for six years.
"It's important, if the father is not in the home, that the kid has a male mentor," Horn said. "We want [kids and mentors] to increase the time they spend together, to realize that the children need them. Kids are not looking for advice—they're looking for examples. And the reality is that a man is the only person who can teach a young boy how to be a man."
A father and son take a break on the sidelines during the kick-off event. Photo courtesy of Julia Roberts, Agency Photography.
Father Knows Best in the Community
The Five Borough Basketball Tour will stop next in Brooklyn before it moves onto the area's remaining boroughs. In the weeks following each tour stop, there will be a seven-week curriculum of workshops and basketball within the community to continue the efforts of teaching fathers and kids, or mentors and mentees life skills that emphasize faith, integrity, sacrifice, leadership, and legacy on and off the court.
Allan Houston's Father Knows Best program was developed by the former all-star player and his father, Coach Wade Houston, and provides basketball and learning activities for fathers-sons and mentors-mentees, emphasizing leadership, communication, and the importance of spending quality time together.
To learn more about the program, visit www.allanhouston.com/fkbnation.