I HATE AAU BASKETBALL……….Kobe Bryant, Robert Horry, Charles Barkley weigh in!

This is a topic that has been going around so I figured I would add my thoughts on this as well.  Having been in the industry for over a decade and seeing many of the things that Kobe Bryant, Robert Horry, and Charles Barkley mention their are some valid points.  

Robert Horry,

These kids aren’t getting good coaching. They’re playing too many games and not working on their game enough.”

“Coaches exploit kids to get payoff”  “Many coaches are in it for themselves”

These are 3 very valid points as I have seen many players and families who just dont know any better get sucked into a cycle of jumping from team to team, playing in tournaments every weekend and thinking that this is the process for developing as a player.  Like many industries there are people who do things the right way and people who are only looking out for themselves and how they can propel themselves to more opportunities through the players.

However not notice his comments on how through his personal experience it was a team in which the coaches son was on the team, playing a lot of minutes, and “was the worst player on the team.”

Kobe Bryant

In an interview with Sports Illustrated Kobe Bryant  credited growing up playing basketball overseas, where developing fundamentals at the younger ages is at a premium, as the cause of his high level of play way over his athleticism.

“I was lucky to grow up in Italy at a time when basketball in America was getting f***** up with AAU shuffling players through on strength and athleticism. I missed all that, and instead I was taught extreme fundamentals: footwork, footwork, footwork, how to create space, how to handle the ball, how to protect the ball, how to shoot the ball. I wasn’t the strongest kid at that camp. I wasn’t the fastest. I wasn’t the most athletic. I was probably the most skillful, but that didn’t matter. It was all about the 360 windmill dunks.”

Charles Barkley interview via sports radio interview

“They’re killing the game. AAU is the worst thing to happen to college basketball ever. I hate AAU more than anything in the world. These kids aren’t getting good coaching. They’re playing too many games and not working on their game enough. “

“And what’s happened is the NBA, we’re the beneficiary of it unfortunately. We’ve got a bunch of guys who … my number one thing I hate in the world is when you’re talking to fans and they’ll say ‘man that guy can really run and he can really jump.’ And I always say ‘so can a deer but I wouldn’t put him in a game.’ These guys, listen, they’ve been coming into the NBA for the last three years and they can run and jump, but they’ve cut out the middle man when you go to college and learn how to play.”

Very valid point about how many of the coaches in summer basketball get excited over a kid that can run and jump but never learn how to play!

My personal opinion is that people must know that all summer/year round basketball is not AAU……… and in my opinion AAU or not has little relevance on rather or not someone is helping kids or not because it depends on what the individual does with the platform.   If that platform is being used to take the experiences that the coach/trainer personally has and teach the kids lessons of life and basketball then there is no question that it is a GREAT thing for todays youth.  If that platform is being used for the coach/trainer to leverage that kids talent for personal gain then it is a problem.

I know for a FACT that if it had not been for a coach who took the time to pour into me the message of life through basketball it would have been very difficult for me to accomplish many of the things that I have in my life.  From playing at a high level in high school, receiving multiple college scholarships, receiving a college degree, and being in a totally different environment that allowed for me to meet my wife and start my family while giving back to the youth the same way it was done for me.

We are ALL blessed to be a blessing to someone else!