The NBA and basketballscotland hosted a Jr. NBA clinic on Saturday, May 18 at University of Strathclyde’s new sport centre in Glasgow to mark the expansion of the Jr. NBA basketballscotland League to two leagues, in addition to the first-ever Jr. NBA Wheelchair Basketball League.
Onsite to celebrate the announcement was Jim Naismith, the grandson of the inventor of basketball Dr. James Naismith, who is of Scottish heritage. The event for local youth was also highlighted by current and former Scotland National Team players Kieron Achara, Jonny Bunyan, Bantu Burroughs, Nick Collins, Ali Fraser, Callan Low and Gareth Murray, as well as Caledonia Pride players Maela Faleu and Pollyanna Storie and Scotland National Team wheelchair basketball player Josh Manson.
Throughout the clinic, kids were led through various warm-up and skill exercises in a fun, competitive environment, with the NBA Basketball Operations clinician employing engaging tools such as scarves and balloons to encourage agility and spatial awareness and to foster their understanding and engagement with the sport.
basketballscotland CEO Kevin Pringle tipped off the presentation with a bit of background about the Jr. NBA basketballscotland League and the significance of its expansion before handing over to former Great Britain and Scotland National Team player Kieron Achara who encouraged the young players and shared his excitement about their country’s ties to the game. Naismith also addressed the group, expressing his enthusiasm for youth participation and being back in his family’s ancestral home. Achara then presented Naismith with a personalised Scotland jersey on behalf of basketballscotland for the occasion. The event also featured the FIBA Basketball World Cup trophy, known as the Naismith Trophy in honour of the game’s inventor.
Kieron Achara on basketball’s Scottish roots and what it means to have the first-ever Jr. NBA wheelchair basketball league in Scotland: “Basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith whose family actually originated from Scotland. Did any of you know that? When I found this out, I was so proud to be Scottish, to know that the game I absolutely love and adore has its roots in Scotland. It was a really proud moment for me and I think it’s something we should share.”
“It means a lot to have the first wheelchair basketball in the Jr. NBA in Scotland just because it just shows how inclusive our sport really is. That’s something we have been preaching a lot in basketball in Scotland because we really believe it’s a sport for all, so this is a chance to highlight that, really expand the game, raise the awareness and offer everyone the chance to experience it.”
Jim Naismith on the game’s connection to Scotland: “I am delighted to be here back in the home territory of my father’s family here in Glasgow. The game that he created in 1891, a long time ago, spread internationally immediately, but I am standing in the place where the background started and a lot of that thinking came out of this very neighborhood.”
basketballscotland CEO Kevin Pringle on the significance of the event: “It’s a really exciting day for basketball in Scotland. The first element is about celebrating the history of basketball and its links to Scotland and secondly about expanding our partnership with the Jr. NBA which is a really important initiative for us. It’s about growing the game, getting kids excited and leveraging the partnership with the brand and excitement that brings to get kids enthused about basketball and hopefully keep them playing the game.”
basketballscotland Disability Talent & Pathways Manager Tina Gordon on the inclusion of wheelchair basketball in the Jr. NBA league in Scotland: “Its huge for us. At the moment, young people with physical impairments who play wheelchair basketball aren’t able to represent their schools or play at that level at that age, so to be part of the Jr. NBA is amazing and I am sure we will see great talent coming through in the future.”