By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Two former NBA stars spoke to several hundred young basketball players at the Charles George Arena on the night of Saturday, March 29. Reggie Johnson and Dale Ellis spoke about basketball, dedication, practice regimens, school, and life in general to the crowd that was in attendance for the NTBA (National Travel Basketball Association) tournament.
Johnson was a member of the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers team that won the World Championship. In 2009, he was named to the All-Century team for the University of Tennessee consisting of their top 20 players of all-time. Ellis played 17 years in the NBA. He was named NBA Most Improved in 1987, and in 1989 he was named to the NBA All-Star team. In the 1988-89 season, he broke the Sonics/Thunder franchise scoring record, a record he would hold until Kevin Duran broke the record in the 2009-10 season. The University of Tennessee has retired Ellis’ #14 jersey.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” Johnson told the crowd. “Keep working hard. Get those grades up. That’s really important. If you don’t have the grades, you’re wasting your time.”
He told the young players to appreciate the sacrifices of those around them as well. “Your parents and your coaches are hustling for you and you need to hustle for them.”
Ellis said, “You have to believe in yourself. Set your goals high. Set your goals to be the best. Be the best at whatever you decide to do in life.”
He also said it is important to focus on academics. “You have to apply yourself in the classroom. There should be a balance.”
Ellis said that life is a series of choices and it is important to work hard to achieve your goals. Getting my degree was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. It taught me that whatever I apply myself to I can accomplish.”