Ex-NBA guard: Working with kids more meaningful than breaking Magic Johnson’s record


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Sam Vincent has an NBA championship ring from his playing days with the Boston Celtics, and even broke Magic Johnson’s single-game high school scoring record with 61 points.

But his most important contributions to the game of basketball are happening now. Fifty years old now, he still has an imposing physique, but this is softened by his characteristic smile and articulation.

In late April, Vincent, who is the head of the Florida-based Retired Players Youth Development League, taught basketball clinics to Guam’s youth at St. Anthony Catholic School in Tamuning. His mission was to improve the well-being of children by providing a role model that can support them academically, socially or personally (guampdn).

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Vincent also shared his first ever experience on Guam with a packed Rotary Club of Northern Guam luncheon, held at the Hyatt Regency Guam.

“I want to say thank you to the president of the Rotary Club and to all the members who allowed me to come in and share what for me has been a very, very special he said.

““Coming to Guam to do the clinics, all along, I have said to all our participants, to the media, it’s not just about basketball. It’s really about teaching all of the other important characteristics that come along with sports. All the hard work, the sacrifice, the discipline, the teamwork … all of these are characteristics that our youths are going to need, not only in their sport, but in achieving education and going into the workforce,” Vincent said.

“The message that we really try to carry in all of our different clinics is bigger and broader than what we do on the basketball court,” he added.

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A few weeks before his trip to Guam, Vincent’s calendar was starting to fill up with multiple speaking and teaching engagements.

“Right around four weeks before I came, I started getting all these other invitations, but the only thing I could think about was all the work Leah Metra was putting in to make this happen and my commitment was to fulfilling what we discussed and what we were trying to bring to Guam,” he admitted.

Vincent arrived on Guam via online contact. Through the online social media and networking site LinkedIn, Leah Metra, akin to a shot in the dark, reached out to Vincent. He replied to her request and the rest, as they say, is history.

““There were a few things that were really special. The talent that I saw that participated in the clinic, I was really very impressed. I’ve coached in South Africa. I’ve coached in Nigeria. I’ve coached in China. I’ve coached in Amsterdam. So, I’ve had a chance to see a lot of kids. When I had the chance to work with these kids I was really surprised that there were some middle school-level kids that were really good basketball players,” Vincent said.

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He went on to add that there were several kids that stood out, among which was Michael Min, yet he didn’t expect anything special at first.

“Leah had been telling me about him, that he can do this, and he had 30 points. I’m like yeah, right. He had 30 points, who was he playing against? So, I came in thinking that I was finally going to see this Michael Min and I was really surprised. Michael Min is just under 6 foot right now, he’s an 8th grader. But he’s one of the fastest 8th graders I’ve seen. He’s got a lot of speed, he’s a good ball-handler. He can shoot the ball and he’s athletic. He’s as athletic and plays as well as any kid that I’ve seen in any of the clinics I have done,” Vincent admitted.

Vincent had a three-year stint serving with the NBA retired players association whose mandate is to improve the lives of ex-NBA players, especially those who didn’t play in an era with Kobe Bryant- and Michael Jordan-esque contracts.

After this stint, Vincent started the Retired Players Youth Development League. Having adopted the ideals of President John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” speech,” Vincent’s nonprofit stemmed from philanthropy and applying his talents to the less privileged.

Seemingly fed up with past conversations regarding what could be done to improve the former ballers’ lives, Vincent said: “We spent a lot of time figuring out what we could do for our players, but my thought was why can’t we use our players to do more for youth.”

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Comparing his current roll of basketball ambassador and the empowering of children through sports education to his role as an NBA player, Vincent said: “I appreciate what I’m doing more now. I had a chance to play with Michael Jordan … but the opportunity now, to work with the next generation, is more meaningful than the 61 points to break Magic Johnson’s record.”

Vincent said that the clinics will not be the last time he, or other former NBA pros, will set foot on Guam. He mentioned that he already has it in the works to bring back ex-hoops greats like Tree Rollins, who played for the Atlanta Hawks, and the former NBA sharpshooter Dale Ellis.

Sam Vincent played 7 seasons in the NBA, for Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Seattle Supersonics and Orlando Magic. He averaged career high 11.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg and 5.6 apg for Orlando in 1989-90 season.

Vincent played in total of 396 NBA games, starting in 168. He holds career averages of 7.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg and 3.9 apg in 19 mpg.

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