Friday, February 26, 2016

Barbados Hoops Report [The Good, The Bad & The Ugly]

Barbados is a beautiful countrywith a strong 
and proud people...With lovely, picturesque, beach fronts 
and numerous cultural attractions and celebrations.  


The status of Hoops in Barbados can be best characterized 
as "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."  Where should 
I start after spending an incredible week there, hanging 
with the student/athletes, enjoying the BABA games, and 
working out in the gentle February Bajan sun?

    BABA game at Garfield Sobers Arena, Bridgetown Barbados

BABA Website  

[Part One-The Daily Workout]
Work with me...I'll start with my daily workout.  The 
temperatures in Barbados, in February, hover in the 78
degree range. [26 degrees C or so]  Not too hot.  Not too 
cool.   However, compared to the sub-polar -10 degrees, 
that I left on the streets of New York City, I was in 
paradise.  Can't get any better than this.  My daily 
routine was as follows...

                    Brighton Beach, Blackrock, St Michaels

7AM- Rain or Shine-
Half mile down-hill run to Brighton Beach in Blackrock.
7:10-Gold Sand
Full Stretch and two mile run on the beach.
7:30-Blue Water
Short swim in the gentle, blue, sea.
7:50-The Hill
Wash off sand and walk back to the base of Spring
Garden Highway, and run the entire 34 degree hill
back to Front Road.  I run in place, when necessary,
to carefully avoid oncoming traffic that travels on
the left-hand side of the road.
8:05-Hoop Skills
Next to the Cricket Pitch, on the other side of Front
Road, up the gap from "Carltons" I shoot hoops and
ball-handle for twenty minutes.  Sometimes the
multi-purpose backboards have been turned in the
opposite direction for Net-ball.  [No Backboard]
I shoot on them anyway.  I simply practice putting 
the ball through the hoop.  Then I slowly walk 
back to the house. 

What is Netball? 
                  Netball Hoop...Guess What? No Backboards!

Needless to say I'm in the best shape of my life...
Lookout Buffalo there will be some changes made.
Buffalo Masters Website

                                                    Barbados Banknote
Who is on the Money? 

[Part Two "The Good" Youth Basketball in Barbados]
One of the highlights of my trip was witnessing the
joy and enthusiasm of the children and young adults
at the Mini-Basketball camps that are held at the
Bridgetown, YMCA on Fridays and Saturdays. 
This is one of the most important opportunities to
teach, and develop the young people into good,
and healthy athletes.  More importantly, these
participatory experiences are building better people,
and a better society.  
National Heroes of Barbados 

                  The Next Generation Basketball Academy

Teamwork, sportsmanship, and positive self-
expression are many of the virtues shared with the
student athletes at these sessions. These semi-formal
learning sessions should be supported and expanded
throughout this island nation, not much larger than
the five boroughs of NYC. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Next Generation Academy at Bridgetown YMCA [Fridays]

The Friday, at the YMCA, program is called Next
Generation, and is coordinated by Zahir Motara
This basketball academy is relatively new and has
a traditional basketball camp structure with rotating
skill stations.  Zahir has some on hand support
from a few of the BABA players, and I had
anticipated more involvement from the more
experienced players in the instruction of the
island's youth.  It was great working with them,
pushing the 12 & Unders through a series of
hoop fundamentals. The children listened
attentively, and did all of their penalty push-
ups for missed lay-ups. 

Next Generation at Facebook

NexGenABA at Instagram


Barbados History Reggae Dub

       Mini-League /Basketball Camp- YMCA [Saturdays]

Saturday's Mini-Camp workout at the Bridgetown
YMCA is called the YMCA Mini-League and the
coordinators of this event are Adrian Craigwell,
and Carlos MooreThese work-outs are mixed
ages, [6-21] and full of fun for beginners, and
the intermediate stars of the future.  Drills, and
competitions are friendly experiences, where a
missed shot, or layup is not considered the end
of the world.  Many times, recreational sports can
be promoted as serious as military training, or
Kung-Fu school.  Not here.  Not on Saturdays. 
Can you name the 10 National Heroes of Barbados? 

     Life Lessons from Coach Craigwell & Coach Moore

Youth here will still learn basketball skills, sportsmanship, 
team building and fair play...But none of the coaching
staff, or children are getting any gray hair over the 
playing of the game.  Coach Carlos Moore put it best,
"Perhaps we as a country won't produce many
players that go on to the NBA.  However, we
will produce scholars, good people, and
professionals in other industries that can help
Barbados, and the world."  I can't argue with
that. With the hundred$ of NBA players that
have come out of the inner-cities of the U.S.
there is still rampant poverty, and social
dysfunction throughout "The Hood."  For
learning the game, in a fun environment, The
YMCA Mini-League is in a league of it's own.

Middle League Camp at the Bridgetown YMCA on Saturdays

Old Barbados in Black & White

Contact: Adrian Craigwell on Facebook
Barbados Today Story on The Middle League

                                                      Barbados Banknote

           The Right Excellent Errol Barrow
                      John Redman Bovell
              The Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod
                  The Right Excellent Sir Grantley Adams
                        Sir Frank Worrell
                           CHARLES DUNCAN O'NEAL 

[Part Three "The Bad"...There's Work to be Done]

Let me start this off by saying that Basketball is
the most popular sport in Barbados...
after Cricket, Soccer and Road Tennis.  With that said, 
there aren't many basketball courts throughout the island, 
and the playing surfaces and backboards are not in the 
greatest of shape.  I am very familiar with these playing 
conditions from growing up in NYC, in the 60's & 70's, 
where the maintenance of the playgrounds and courts 
was not a high priority for the city officials.  Cracked 
playing surfaces, unlit or poorly lit courts, and broken 
backboards dotted the New York City skyline for years
...and still do.
What is Road Tennis? 

Wired Road Tennis Article 

Krosfyah Band-Pump Me Up Video 

When the NY Housing Authority didn't paint the lines
on the court...Men in the community painted the lines
on the court.  When the backboards, and rims were
falling off the poles and fences in the Bronx, Manhattan,
and Brooklyn...Men in the community nailed the rims
back up there, and refurbished the backboards...When
the East Side Settlement House, and other community
agencies around the city had their scheduled budget
cuts from the city and state, and decided not to fund
the neighborhood basketball tournaments for children,
teens and young adults...The men and women in the
community pooled their resources. printed their own
jerseys in their bedrooms, and began to produce local
tournaments and activities for themselves.
That is why, till this day, in New York City you've
got hundreds of independent, bootleg, mom and pop,
community organizations who produce tournaments
all year through...especially in the summer months
from June through September.  Uhuru  

                       Barbados is 166.02 sq miles (430 km²)

Well I've just have a few general
questions to ask...Someone please 
respond, comment, and help me
understand, "Wat Gwan On?!?" 
Why aren't there more public
basketball courts in Barbados?
Why are the players playing on
wooden backboards at the Bridgetown
YMCA and not fiber-glass?   Why are there no
public gyms for recreational basketball?  What's
up with the bleachers at the YMCA, and when
will they be repaired?  Better yet, when will
they be replaced?  Why aren't more of the
Premier players, and Junior National players
involved with the training and development
of the younger players throughout the country?
Red Plastic Bag Video 

                                       Bajan Currency

[Part Four-'The Ugly"...My worst basketball nightmare]

In all the years I have traveled to Barbados, I have never 
played in a basketball game there.  I have watched a
number of BABA games at the Sobers Center or at
the Barbados Community College, but I've never played a
single recreational game on the Bajan island. Oh, I guess I
might have beat up on my brother Derek Oxley in a game,
or two, but nothing with, or against, the local talent. So on
this trip, I was determined to correct that athletic matter of
history, as soon as possible.

       As soon as I touched down, I reached out to my contacts,
and after we exchanged pleasantries, I was able to secure
the info I needed about the Sunday evening "Adult Masters"
play at the St Michael's School.  I was told it was indoor.  
Actually, it is an outdoor setting in a courtyard in-between
the three school buildings.  They have half-moon, wooden,
backboards with metal roofing to shield the courts from
the elements of sun, and rain. 
                                          [Half-Moon backboard & goal]

The concrete playing surface, free of the broken glass,
reminded me of Patterson Square Garden in the
Bronx, NY.  "The Square" had half moon metal
backboards, supported by a single, unpadded, metal
pole, making lay-ups down the middle semi-suicidal,
or feats of athletic acrobatics.

Patterson Houses, Bronx, NY [The Square is lower center]

As the sun slowly set on Bridgetown, the overhead
lighting was confidently turned on, by the first player
to arrive other than me.  The "spotty" lighting created
a dimly lit, shadowy, scenario conducive to hard passes
bouncing out of bounds, off of tanned foreheads, 
and swollen fingers. 

       I am on time, early actually.  I jog. Stretch. Check my 
e-mails and text messages.  Several players slowly begin to 
arrive.  Bajan time. I attempt to introduce myself, and as 
the three on three game quickly begins, I realize two things; 
[1] For some reason, no one on my team wants to guard the 
player I have been assigned to check.  [2] The player I am 
assigned to guard is my "host contact" for the evening.  
He must have arrived while I was checking my messages, 
I never saw him walk into the courtyard.   

      Now where I come from, if a friend, or family member 
sends me someone to hang-out in my network, I was trained 
to take care of that person, and make sure they were safe, 
and comfortable. This is a common courtesy, and a
cultural standard practiced all over the world.  It's the
right thing to do. Apparently, my host hadn't gotten the
universal memo and I felt a cold, polar, breeze as I
extended my hand to him just before the ball was tossed
into play.   

                                        coach (sic) Bobby Knight O.O.C.

[STRIKE ONE! The Hoosier Factor]
      The game begins with nothing out of the norm,
however, two minutes in, everyone on my team
became coach (sic) Bobby Knight.  Emotionally,
pointing and shouting instructions of where, when,
and what I should have done to execute my play during
the match.  Disgusted chants of "Lord have Mercy!",
"Shoot the Ball!", "Pass the Ball!" "Grab the Ball!"
"JESUS CHRIST!"  Initially, I ignore them.  I also take 
quick inventory on what they are doing, and not 
doing during the game.  I deduct that they are 
moving, and appear to be moving faster, and more 
productive than anyone on the court at that point 
of the game. Two of my opponents are very good 
shooters, one tall, slim and athletic...The other a solid
frame, that was built for rugby and low post play.
Even my "host/contact" has a pretty good shot.
He can nail the jumper, when left open, and not  
busy narrating, or debating, the play by play.

     A few more minutes pass, and I say to myself, "Just
get your recreation in and don't over engage yourself
physically in this game." Just then I am crosschecked,
hard, in the chest by one of my opponents while passing 
through the lane on offense.  Another opponent had hit
me with a solid moving pick two possessions before,
so now they were officially on my radar.  So to quickly 
recap...I am not having a good time, and neither are my 
new friends.  Some, of these semi-elders, play very 
physical, while others in the very same game are playing 
some form of "Mystery Ball" where opponents bow, 
pirouette, and gracefully ballroom dance past one another 
on the way to having a spot of tea. This is all danced to
the continuous, off-key, music of players complaining, 
coaching, and debating about the goings on of every play.

     at Rucker Park 2015 with The     
    Legendary Joe Hammond & Teresa Weatherspoon [WNBA]

[STRIKE THREE! "This Ain't Rucker Park!"]
On offense, a shot goes up and I lightly box out my
"host/contact" and grab another rebound.  He begins to
yell at me, from the top of his voice, "You can't do
that! You keep getting in my way! We don't play like
that down here!  THIS AIN'T RUCKER PARK!
THIS AIN'T RUCKER PARK!"   I calmly say to
him, "No, this sure isn't Rucker Park."  He returns my
sarcasm with, "Do it again and I'll knock you down!"  
At this point I can see he's O.O.C. and got "that look"
in his eye.  All I have for him emotionally, or verbally
is, "Really?"  His response to me at this point is
"REALLY!" as he tenses his jaw and the air around him.
  At this point I'm contemplating two very basic things
[1] Since I came on foot...When is the immediate, two-
dollar, van scheduled out of Bridgetown? Maybe I can
catch up with the family members who are attending
the Holetown Festival 20 kilometers from where I am
being insulted.  [2] I can't wait to get to the ears of
my friends who put me in contact with the individual
screaming in front of me.  
       I try to manage the situation with an apology, and
I turn to my teammates for support, as I elect to guard 
someone else.  My teammates would have nothing of that.
I take a deep breath, and return to my post on defense.
We then complete two games, without major athletic, or
physical incident.   I then shake luke-warm hands, and 
head off into the cool Bridgetown night towards the bus
terminal on Cheapside. I slowly leave St. Michael's
school batting .500 with one win and one loss.


"Man cannot live by basketball alone
Local Bajan, fish, delicacies that are second to none.

 The Recipes of Barbados

How can we expect to develop a higher level
of recreational, competitive play, and build a
better society, if we as middle-aged men cannot
get along on the basketball court unsupervised? 
Do we really need the policing of two referees
to have a good time bouncing an inflated
rubber ball?   I hope this is not the reality that
we are creating for ourselves, and our children.

No, all in all the work-out really wasn't that bad.
Maybe some of my Bajan brothers were just having
a bad day at the St. Michael's School courtyard.
Every player out there wasn't O.O.C., but my 
frustration, and pain, is rooted in what I had 
personally expected from my middle-aged brothers 
in Barbados.  I am sure that the next time I'm in 
town I will receive a better reception.  I pray 
that it is so.  It is my intention to promote safe,
fundamentally sound, spirited play throughout 
the world...Free of personal conflict, and 
excessive physical aggression.

Steel Pan in Barbados

So there you have it, my annual report on 
Barbados Basketball..."The Good, The
Bad and the Ugly".  Thank God the Good
[Youth Basketball] far out-weighs the 
Bad and the Ugly.  The youth are our
future, however, it is our responsibility
to build a better world, and culture for
them to live in.

Uhuru = Freedom
Ubuntu = I am because We are
Umoja = Unity

Peace. LW
                NYC by night as I return to the bright lights

**[O.O.C.= Out Of Control]

***Your commentary on these
matters of community, life, and
fair play, are greatly encouraged,
and appreciated.



  1. Sounds like you were playing with a bunch of knuckle headz, Lahh. It happens occasionally. Seeya in Buffalo! Jude

  2. When I read the part of the story, about what you went through
    playing ball on Sunday, I really felt bad. Because, I was one
    of the people who sent you there. I don't know why some of the
    guys argue so much. I was laughing when you described some of
    what you went through with the arguing. The next time you are
    in Barbados I will find you a better group to play with. They
    might be younger, but there won't be so much arguing.
    Zahir Motara Next Generation Basketball Academy.

  3. I guess you described the good, the bad, and the ugly. I will say this it was a pleasant surprise that the youth were so enthusiastic about learning the game and following skills practices. The country looks and sounds like a beautiful place to be, a paradise. It seems basketball is not a top priority there so the conditions are not great. But I'm sure as they realize that there youth are interested they will make the proper changes for the basketball competition to grow. It sounded very interesting. I thought the Masters Tournament would be a good fit for you unfortunately the guys didn't seem like they were interested in being hospitable nor were they interested in playing the game the right way. That is such a pity. Being the good sport that you are I know you handled yourself professionally. That Bajan food was looking so good but it seemed like an island paradise and the beach seemed like an awesome postcard. I gather that aside from the basketball the good, the bad the ugly sportsmanship is definitely needed.

    Coach Johhny Pugh Harlem, NYC

  4. It was a great Bajan experience to say the least.
    In regards to hoops, at a very young age we learned
    so much from just watching the game. Older players
    dominated the playgrounds and gyms. You had to sit
    on the side, watch, and wait till they were done
    playing with your ball. When we finally got to
    play, we earnestly tried to imitate what we had
    witnessed. So that's how we learned to play
    Uptown. Madd Madd Shout-Out and Love to the
    six Bronx coaches that taught me the finer
    points of the game. [1] Mr. Marvin Rogers
    [R.I.P.] [2] Mr. Teddy Williams [3] Mr. Myles
    Dorch [4] Mr. Bill Hill [R.I.P.] [5] Mr. Nate
    Archibald [6] Mr. Floyd Layne [Still coaching
    at 85+ years young] Peace. LW

  5. Is basketball place to release one's aggression or aggressive competitive sport shared by brothers? Recently, following a community basketball game with my grandsons I discovered the basketball court is a place where young males experience rites of passage, brotherhood, education, love, instruction, direction and so much more. As I watched the interaction of the men with the little ones who came to test their skills I was quite moved. I do hope your commentary will bring light to what has been lost in some of our communities, locally or abroad. The youth years, bonding, brotherhood that develops through the game of basketball should never be forgotten. Leave the anger off the court and embrace the youthful fun as the elder years enter. Thank you for sharing the beauty and challenges of your journey.

  6. Basketball in Barbados is not played like what you see on tv. In the states players train with famous coaches and such. We
    just don't have those great type of resources to go around. Know what I mean? We compete in other sports.

  7. The support situation in Ghana is no different. We
    have to walk a great distance to train where the
    basketball players train at. Many do not have the
    proper equipment to properly play basketball.
    Basketball shoes are very expensive here. Very
    expensive. We train hard maybe one or two times
    a week at the University when I am not working.
    Wonder & Tony. Accra

  8. Ist as a Y professional, I was glad to see the youth participating in skills development abroad. Partnering with our brothers around the world is an important life sharing experience. the Y is abount respect, responsibility, caring, and honesty. I was sadden by the conduct displayed by the guest host and their need to play the game without sportmanship and character. Sometimes we have to understand how far our game has come back here in the states. When you visit other, you realize that basketball has evolved beyond the prison yards, barnyards, and battlegrounds. It is important to impact the youth and realize that grown folks won't change their ways. I hope the kids were not watching this. If they were, I hope there is someone that can offer maintenance to explain to them that is is not the way. Otherwise, the clinics were in vain.

  9. Great read! It is nice to hear about the kids learning skills in the sport. Good work by the organizers taking the time to teach them. Sounds like the Masters can use a lesson in good sportsmanship!

    The description of the courts makes me wonder what is the best way to help? Does a GoFundMe for backboards help? Donating to the Y? How do you build a pocket park for a pickup game? That is a HUGE part of the basketball culture in the US. We didn't all have famous coaches... we didn't all make the team.. but we all had the chance to go to the nearest school/ park/ someone's back yard and get next. Some courts are better than others, but there was always a court.

    Well keep up the good work. And one question. .. who got next?

  10. Thanks for sharing Coach.
    One thing..... its actually YMCA Minileague not Middle League but we sincerely appreciate the highlight and your contributions when you are here.
    Sorry to hear about your less than pleasant experience while scrimmaging. Too many egos spoiling it for real enthusiasts, but next time you can spend that time with us helping us to foster more of what we want to see in the youth......