The penultimate day of the inaugural Nike World Basketball Festival featured a special visit to Harlem’s famed Rucker Park by, arguably, the best player in the National Basketball Association and a closed scrimmage between the finalists for the United States World Championship Team and the national team from China at Madison Square Garden.
In the heat of a glorious summer morning, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant graced the court of Rucker Park with his presence and put on his coaching hat to provide special individual and group instruction to an eager and wide-eyed collection of New York City youth.
Bryant’s appearance was part of the House of Hoops Chain Link Fundamentals, whose mission is to “empower youth ballplayers through access and instruction.” With thousands of young boys and girls across the country who do not have access to proper instruction, Chain Link has married the playground with specialized instruction to give kids the tools they need to succeed.
When asked for his thoughts on the concept of the World Basketball Festival and the opportunity for fans to experience the game on a global level in New York City, Bryant beamed, “I think it’s beautiful.”
“I spent a lot of years growing up in Italy and learning a different style of play”, Bryant added. “I think it’s important for kids here in America to be able to see how basketball is being played in Brazil, how it’s being played in France, how it’s being played in different parts of the world. So I think it just helps grow the sport the more you see it. They get a chance to observe and learn.”
After the two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player firmly established himself as the undisputed main attraction of the World Basketball Festival’s Day 3 morning program, all eyes turned to the Team USA hopefuls in the afternoon as they scrimmaged with the Chinese National Team at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’.
The scrimmage was broken up into 4 ten-minute quarters that saw Team USA outscore China by total of 48 points (20-11, 27-15, 35-8) to win the first three quarters. However, the United States offense went stagnant in the final quarter, which allowed China to eke out a one-point victory (17-16).
When all four quarters were taken as a whole, Team USA defeated China by a score of 98-51. Indiana Pacers small forward Danny Granger led all scorers with 22 points on 6 of 8 shooting from the field and 3 of 4 shooting from three-point range. Granger did most of his damage in the first and third quarters, where he scored 10 points in each stanza.
“That’s what I do during the season; that’s the way I play for my team. I just took the approach that I would score”, Granger said following the scrimmage. “A lot of times when I was playing before, I was kind of being passive and that’s not really my game. My game is to be a scorer, rebound and finish. So I just took that approach today and when I was open I let it go.”
With an exhibition game against the national team from France to conclude the four-day World Basketball Festival, the United States roster was trimmed to 13 when the decision was made to cut Jeff Green and JaVale McGee.
The roster must be pared down to 12 prior to the commencement of the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey on August 28.
Stay tuned to dampfang.com for more coverage of the World Basketball Festival.