Ex-center John Amaechi slams UK basketball, urges for radical changes

john-amaechi-conferenceFormer center John Amaechi, who spent 5 years in the NBA, playing for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah has urged for “radical changes” in how basketball is taught in the UK.

Talking to Hoopsfix at the NBA Fan Zone recently, Amaechi said he would be open and willing to work with the National Governing Body, despite his continually critical comments in the press over the past few years.

According to Hoopsfix, England Basketball and John Amaechi are to begin repairing their fractured relationship.

With former CEO Keith Mair stepping down in August, and a new Executive Board in place, the organisation is in the process of reaching out to as many stakeholders as possible to help push the sport forward, including Amaechi.

“2013 has very much been a year of reflection and re-planning for England Basketball, but we are now in a position to discuss our plans and gain input from influential basketball organisations and individuals,” said Ameesh Manek, one of EB’s Independent Board Directors who is helping stand in as CEO whilst they undertake the hiring process.

“Members of the EB Board are actively reaching out and meeting with a number of potential partners who have the best interests of the sport at heart and can make a valuable contribution in the finalisation and delivery of these plans.”

“With this in mind, I approached John at the post NBA game event. In that conversation, I requested dialogue between John and members of the EB Board to discuss his views on basketball in England, exchange ideas on how to grow the sport and gain his input into our plans.

“John graciously accepted the invitation and I look forward to commencing that dialogue in the very near future,” Manek said.

Despite things appearing quiet on the surface, behind the scenes England Basketball’s new executive board have been laying the foundations for a number of big changes in the coming months – including a new CEO and complete strategic review of the organisation.

Amaechi previously spoke to Hoopsfix, and mostly slammed the way basketball is being taught in the UK, which is something that definitely needs to improve.

john-amaechi-orlando“The story hasn’t changed. There’s no excuse. France just won Eurobasket. They’re genetically identical to us, they have the same imperial ambitions, the same genetics as we do. And yet they have 6 players who are NBA stars. And outside of NBA they have a team that competes and wins Eurobasket. We lack infrastructure, it is still far too expensive to play basketball in this country, we also lack quality coaching,” Amaechi said.

“Amaechi went on to say that it is brilliant that kids can watch Luol Deng play, however “when a kid looks at him and looks around himself and asks – where can I play some good basketball, cheap and with a great coach? It’s not there. And there’s work that needs to be done.”

Speaking about government helping out with developing basketball in the UK, Amaechi agreed that it would’ve definitely helped.

“But we’ve also got to face the fact that in these times, when teachers are not really measured on how many basketball players they’re producing, some outside systems have to be in place. Schools of course are helpful, but it has to be more than that,” Amaechi believes.

Amaechi said he’s willing to help, since he’s not “anti British basketball”.

“I am for the kids who are talented and are ready to put in the effort. It should not be, as it is currently today, that it is easier to become a football player than a basketball player. The difference being that an average football player gets paid 75,000 pounds a month or a week, and a basketball player gets paid 75,000 pounds a year. And in that system, we can’t beat France,” he said.

“Are we really going to be satisfied with being this below expectations for another three decades? I personally think, every time I walk the streets of Manchester, London, or any other major cities, I am tired of seeing kids who clearly have the potential, capabilities, talent to be outstanding athletes, and we’re still in a situation when we can’t compete,” he underscored.

“If you want to change that, it has to be a radical change. Basketball coaching in this country is abominable, and it has to improve. Either those coaches have to improve, or they need to go,” Amaechi said.

Amaechi spent 5 years in the NBA, playing for Cleveland, Orlando and Utah. During his best season, with Orlando Magic (99-00), Amaechi averaged 10.5 ppg and 3.3 rpg per game, playing 80 games (53 started), in 21.1 minutes per match.

Amaechi played a total of 294 NBA games (93 started), averaging 6.2 ppg and 2.6 rpg in 16.4 minutes per game.


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