Grant preaches teamwork in Dandenong

February 1, 2012

BY ROY WARD, The Greater Dandenong Weekly

Sep, 2011 12:00 AM
FORMER Chicago Bulls forward Horace Grant doesn't know much about Australia but he knows a lot about winning and having success at the highest level.Grant played in four NBA championships and helped superstars of the game such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal score coveted championship rings thanks to his hard work in the paint.

Grant won three titles with Jordan and the Bulls in the early 1990s before late in his career scoring a fourth title with O'Neal, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

While he has long been retired from NBA basketball, Grant still keeps a keen eye on the league and on talent around the world.

He said he was honoured to be asked by the NBA to travel to Australia to coach at the NBA Asia Pacific team camp at Dandenong this week.

Australia, New Zealand, Korea and China have each sent 10 young players to the camp to learn from former NBA players and current coaches. No current NBA players have made the trip due to the ongoing NBA lock-out.

"I don't know that much [about Australia], it's my first visit," Grant said. "Players from each country who got selected, those players are very, very fortunate to have this opportunity to be in a camp like this.

"The NBA is so global right now, it's huge for these kids to be in a place like Australia and learning not just basketball but also motivational life skills, leadership, good character and teamwork."

Grant will be joined by two other former Chicago Bulls championship players in Ron Harper and Australia's Luc Longley and basketball hall of fame member Alex English, who ranks among the highest scorers in NBA history.

Grant, who was known for wearing his trademark goggles throughout his career, said he knew how fortunate he was to play alongside some of the NBA's all time great players during his career.

He said the secret to a long career for players at professional level anywhere in the world was to be a team player.

"I always put the team first and myself last and that is why I played as long as I did. I got 17 years in the league because I always put the team first.

"Anyone who comes into the NBA thinking they are better than others won't last very long."

Grant said he still talked regularly with former NBA teammates, including Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

"Those championship bonds are still so strong," he said. "I talked to MJ about a week and a half ago, spoke with Scottie a week ago and other teammates. We still keep in touch."

Grant said he kept busy with family duties taking his three daughters to sporting and school commitments and also coaching high school basketball and doing some charity work involving the sport.

Grant's NBA career is over but in the world of video games he has received new life after being part of some classic Chicago Bulls teams in the NBA 2k11 and NBA 2k12 video games.

He said he had received plenty of feedback from gamers. "I get emails all the time about it," he said. "People tell me how they just played the video game and your goggles are awesome, you rebound so well, some great things like that."

■ Dandenong Basketball Association will host a special business breakfast with Grant and the other former NBA players on Friday. To book, call Dandenong marketing and media manager Paul Flynn on 97947192.