Bonding and building skills over basketball

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Marc Iavaroni, a former basketball player with the 1983 NBA champion Philidelphia 76ers, speaks before a group of students at Memorial Park's basketball courts. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

With sweat gleaming from their foreheads, dozens of St. Aloysius’ eighth grade athletes dribbled, ducked and dashed, basketball at hand and at heart.

It was a hot day at Memorial Park- the sun beating down on them as hard as the balls on the court.

But while the students were normally motivated, they had an extra push this time around: Marc Iavaroni, a member of the 1983 NBA champion Philadelphia 76ers, and long-time college basketball coach and ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg.

“Here’s my challenge to you,” Greenberg said before the group of boys surrounding him. “Whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability.”

Two student athletes simultaneously shoot at the same hoop. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

The one-day camp aimed to help these students improve their basketball skills and inspire them.

Groups of athletes rotated between the two new guests, as well as their own coaches, to learn new skills they could bring to the courts.

But more importantly, Iavaroni and Greenberg said, they wanted to teach them life lessons.

“We hope that maybe just doing something unusual, showing up, we would inspire people with good lessons,” Iavaroni said. “Not cliché stuff, but things that mean something beyond basketball.”

Among those skills, coaches and players said, were commitment, work ethic, and how to be a team player.

“[In] youth sports, not everybody is a star, so you teach kids sportsmanship and to play as a team,” said Paul Levy, a boys basketball coach at St. Aloysius in Great Neck. “That’s a life lesson you should understand. You can transfer that those skills into everything you do.”

This gathering, however, was not a coincidence.

Levy, who organized the event, actually played on the same varsity basketball team as both Iavaroni and Greenberg. The trio also grew up together in Plainview, New York.

Later on, both Iavaroni and Levy went to Virginia Tech at the same time- and Greenberg coached there too.

Seth Greenberg speaks one-on-one with a student athlete after the formal session ended. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

“Everything in life is about relationships and that’s why we’re here – relationships,” Greenberg said.

When asked if they planned to return someday, Iavaroni and Greenberg laughed. “It’s up to Paul!” they said.

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