In this special edition of a player blog, class of 2012 point guard James Robinson (Pittsburgh) takes us through his experience at the 2012 Nike Hoop Summit last week. Robinson represented team USA in this international match-up and takes us behind the scenes in an experience that included a Portland Trailblazers game, running a basketball clinic for abused boys from local neighborhoods and much more. Make sure you join nearly 1,500 other people and follow him on Twitter at @Ja_RobinsonIII!
Day 1: After arriving in Portland, Oregon, the USA Junior National Team and I went to the Rose Garden and saw the Blazers play the Nets. Even though [New Jersey Nets point guard] Deron Williams did not play in the game, it was a great game to watch from a point guard’s point of view because I got to see how they used screens, how they worked with the 24 second shot clock and how they lead their teams. Throughout the game, advertisements about the Nike Hoop Summit flashed across the big screen. The amount of hype the game received showed me how much the game on Saturday night would mean to everyone who would watch.
After the Blazers game, we headed back to the hotel where we were told to be ready by 8am the following morning for practice. Other than [class of 2012 center] Kaleb [Tarczewski] (Arizona), I knew each of my teammates since I’ve either played with or against them at one point or another. Because we all pretty much knew each other we jokingly talked trash about previous high school, AAU or camp games and had a great time.
Day 2: Early in the morning, we loaded up into vans and headed to the Nike campus where we had our first practice. It was my second time practicing on Nike’s campus (first time was at the 2011 Global Challenge, see the picture below). After a two-hour practice full of drills and putting in plays, [USA head] coach [Kevin] Boyle and [USA assistant] coach [Mike] Jones stressed the importance of playing as a team and competing to win the game. We then ate lunch on Nike’s campus before heading back to the hotel to rest up before our second practice of the day.
At around 5pm the team traveled to the Blazers practice facility where we had a shortened practice followed by an inner squad scrimmage. Because we only had nine players at this point, B.J. Johnson served as the tenth player. The scrimmage was intense and full of high level play. The night concluded with a great dinner at the practice facility.
Day 3: After a good night’s sleep and breakfast we went to the St. Mary’s School for Boys which is a school that takes in abused boys from local neighborhoods. At the school we practiced and enjoyed running a clinic for the boys. Interacting with the boys was a great experience for all of us and one I will never forget. My favorite part was being able to spend time with the kids and enjoying the experience with them. It was great seeing them smile after one of us congratulated them on completing a drill or making a shot and we could tell that they really enjoyed it too.
After the clinic, we then returned to the hotel and rested. At around 5pm we arrived back at the Blazers practice facility where NBA personnel watched us scrimmage some of Nike’s employees. The scrimmage was very competitive and a great way to prepare for the following night’s game.
Day 4: As we took the court for the morning shoot-around at the Rose Garden, the arena staff was setting up for the game later that night. The shoot-around consisted of walking through plays and taking a lot of shots. After about an hour we headed back to the hotel to rest, had a pre-game meal and then return to the Rose Garden for game time. When we arrived back at the arena, we were all focused and ready to play.
An hour before the game fans began to fill the seats and you could feel the excitement in the air. Fans held signs encouraging players to go to “their” school and asked for autographs. 30 minutes before tip-off we headed into the locker room where coach Boyle gave us the game plan and coach Jones reviewed the starting match-ups.
We then took the court to a pretty packed arena to take on a team of international talent. Unfortunately we got off to a very slow start and trailed 10-0 early in the game. We fought back but even at half time trailed by almost 20 points. Luckily for us, with a 24 second shot clock and two ten minute quarters left to play we clawed our way back, even leading at one point. However, we were not able to hold the World Team off eventually losing the game. In the locker room after the game we were upset that we lost but were happy we fought back and did not give up.
For me, it was a great experience and an honor representing our country. As much as we would have wanted to win the game it was a great opportunity provided to us by USA Basketball to compete against some of the best talent the world has to offer.