With Jay-Z opening up the new Barclays Center over the weekend, Brooklyn witnessed the new home of professional basketball in their backyard. But, before the hometown Nets tip off their 2013 season against the Knicks, a former franchise player of the blue and orange proved that Brooklyn still has love for their crosstown rivals.
Allan Houston recently brought his Father Knows Best basketball camp to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. The yearly retreat brings the elements of family, community, and the fundamentals of basketball together for a fun-filled and very educational place for fathers and sons alike. Based on the strong sense of family that Allan has, he’s been able to provide a place that men can bond with their sons and give them an experience that they’ll cherish for the rest of their lives. While basketball may be a foundation for the camp, the kids learn life lessons as young men and the importance of family.
During the 5-Borough Tour stop in Brooklyn, the former Knicks sharpshooter sat with EBONY and discussed his camp, his upbringing and the importance of Fatherhood.
EBONY: Give us the history behind the Father Knows Best camp and the inspiration behind it.
AH: We started the camp back in 2002-2003 and it was basically inspired by the relationship my father and I had growing up, as well as playing for him at the University of Tennessee. We have a mutual love for the game, but I learned everything from fundamentals to leadership, through him. A lot of the things he said and did shaped how I approached the game and life in general. All of these things considered, I just felt that this was something we had to give back to the community. We developed a format to where we could not only teach young kids and players, but we could also help some coaches, mentors and fathers.
We began the retreat with a weekend in West Chester. After a few successful retreats over the next couple years, we felt that an annual event spread throughout various communities would make more of an impact. A curriculum was formed where we could take a retreat/camp, and turn it into a real program. At its present stage, we incorporate everything, which is the fun part about it.
EBONY: Each year the program seems to grow. Is there an ultimate vision behind it and is there an element you hope to incorporate in the future?
AH: That’s a great question. We’re actually in the process of expanding to Erie, Pennsylvania, which is the home of our [New York Knicks] D-League team. They’ll be adopting the program which develops into a model that will allow us to take it nationally or globally. Our focus is to provide a high-quality program that has real impact and growth from within. We want those that come through to speak on how well the program has developed their approach to leadership, family, and their roles within their respective communities. It’s also a goal for the kids to receive those same messages. We want them not only becoming better basketball players, but becoming better leaders as well.
EBONY: With your experiences through the camp, have you given any thought towards coaching?
AH: I think about it all the time. It’s who I am. Both of my parents were teachers and the way they taught us about life and in the classroom, were very impactful. Basketball has always been my life. From attending camps since the age of eight, to playing for my dad at the University of Tennessee, I’ve always thought of the game from a coaching standpoint. Even though I’ve always been a scorer, I’ve always managed to view the game from a coach’s eyes. I guess this is what makes the camp fun for me also; by being able to get out and coach in a way that I probably wouldn’t be able to because of what I’m doing professionally. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed to have played on the pro level and can offer advice to some of the young guys coming through the [Knicks] organization. I spend a lot of time with the coaching staff and I’m always learning, which is one of the biggest aspects of coaching. Just as we grow and learn throughout life, I believe we do the same with coaching.
EBONY: You’ve made some mention to it already, but describe the role your father played in your life.
AH: He was the model of a man in every sense of the word. Not only did I look up to him because he was my dad, but because of his impact that he had on others that I also looked up to. His impact on other athletes is what made my college selection a no-brainer. There was no way I could pass up an opportunity to play for him. His unconditional love for his family and community were also very admirable qualities that came across when he was coaching his players, and I wanted to be a part of that.
His integrity and work ethic shaped the way I approached life, and the game of basketball. It’s difficult to separate your life on and off the court because they’re all part of who you are, and shape your brand.
EBONY: Given your son's gravitation towards football, are there any camps that you’ve participated in with him, that resemble what you do with Father Knows Best?
AH: I haven’t seen anything similar to what we do, and I’ve seen several father/son camps. The good thing about his love for football is that it allows me to not get caught up into his statistics. My lack of knowledge in the sport allows me to focus more on his approach to the game. I can encourage him from a leadership standpoint no matter how many times he touches the ball, or when he wins or loses. When it comes to him playing basketball, I can get a lot more in detail in both the good and bad aspects of the game. All of these things encompass the beauty of our relationship.
EBONY: Where can people go to find out more information on the Father Knows Best program and anything else related to your Allan Houston Legacy Foundation?
AH: They can get all their information from AllanHouston.com and everything they need is right there. We also have another program that teaches young adults how to be an entrepreneur and build their businesses. The first thing people have to do is search for their purpose and why they’re here. Once that’s done, you can set your goals and put your plans in place. Our foundation is all about training people for leadership, growth and showing them how to build their brand.
Steve Rivers has contributed to The Source, ESPN Rise and a host of other online publications. Follow him on Twitter: @TheKidSkoob.