Allan Houston: Ballin’ For All The Right Reasons

Allan Houston is a lot of things: a father, a son, a

brother, a husband, and as most people know him, a former two-time NBA All-Star

guard for the New York Knicks.

He’s accomplished a lot in his life, on the

court and off, but he’d be the first to tell you he didn’t do it alone. He had

help – from his parents, from his coaches, and from his community. They supported him, but more importantly, they provided him

with the tools he would need to succeed.

 

Now it’s his time to return the favor through the Allan Houston

Foundation, which helps kids and young adults achieve success through a variety

of different programs.

 

Houston,

just like the foundation bearing his name, is all about hope. In 1999, he gave

the city of New York

hope with his last second, series clinching jumper that beat the Miami Heat and

eventually led to his first and only NBA Finals appearance.

 

Today, he gives young adults hope through his charity, which

provides a Business Education and Development Program (BEDP) and a “Father Knows Best”

basketball retreat. The BEDP provides economic empowerment through

entrepreneurship and encourages education and life skill development.

 

The basketball retreat brings fathers and sons together to

work together on the court and in life. AllHipHop.com recently caught up with

Houston to discuss two of his passions, basketball and his foundation.

 

AllHipHop.com: The

NBA has had its struggles with image in the past. What are your thoughts on the

state of the league today?

 

Allan Houston: I’ve never thought of the NBA as being down,

from my perspective, I mean it’s a great game. I mean I feel like the time I’ve

been traveling and going overseas, everyone’s been excited about the game. I

think this year it’s become one of the best years in a long time because you’re

starting to see a lot of young talented players.

 

You look at Atlanta, you look at Orlando, you look at teams

like New Orleans. It’s fun because younger players are starting to really learn

and grow, and David Stern has done a good job.

 

AllHipHop.com: You

said you’ve been traveling a bit, have you had much of a chance to sit down and

watch the playoffs this year?

 

Allan Houston: Yeah, every Monday morning we do a little

conversation on KISS FM in New York and talk about the playoffs. I’ve had a

chance to watch a little bit, but it’s hard to watch everything. In the

playoffs you’re always going to have something unexpected that happens. We’ve

come to expect the unexpected. The exciting thing about the playoffs is you’re

always going to have some guys that come out, step onto that stage and take

advantage of that stage. There’s always going to be a couple thrilling shots

and thrilling games but at the end of the day the best team is always going to

win.

 

AllHipHop.com: You

mentioned New Orleans.

They are going into a battle with the San

Antonio Spurs, and we all know about them. On the

other side, it looks like LA will be matching up with Utah. So who do you like coming out of the

West between those teams?

 

Allan Houston: For me, it’s hard to bet against the Lakers

because Kobe,

at the end of the day, is in a great position. They are well coached and they

are very sound defensively. And I think if you throw Pau Gasol in the mix with

anyone, he’s a very tough match up. With Pau, Kobe, and Lamar, I think

they’ll be tough to beat. And then with San

Antonio, everything [used to be] centered around Tim

Duncan, but now it’s also around Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. So if you can

stay on Tony Parker and guard him on the pick-and-roll, you may have a chance.

 

It’s tough, because Phoenix didn’t give us any ideas of how

San Antonio is really going to be. I think the best series and the one I’m going

to love to watch is Chris Paul and New Orleans

against San Antonio

in the West. Both [CP and Tony Parker] are extremely quick. I like Chris Paul

because he controls the games a little more. He’s capable of getting you twenty

something points but he’s also capable of getting you 15 assists.

 

AllHipHop.com: What

is your favorite playoff memory?

 

Allan Houston: It’s split between a few. All in 1999. I was

fortunate to be a part of the NBA Finals that year. The shot against Miami that got us out of

the first round was special. But Game Six

of the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana

was very special to me, because I knew that night that my daughter was going to

be born the next day.

 

It was really my favorite one, because it lasted the whole

game and not just one second. Going through that game was kind of like an out-of-body

experience for me and I was just having fun.

 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

talk about the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. What inspired you to create the

program?

 

Allan Houston: I think the goals of the program are very

similar to my goals growing up. The various things we’d talk about with my

parents in terms of having character and your faith in God, the attention to

education, and discipline. I was fortunate enough to see what its like at any

early age, where a lot of people, especially in the African-American

community, don’t get to see what that’s like.

 

We learned those things, and we learned at the end of the

day you have to be equipped, so we wanted to have somewhere that will help

equip young adults and children [with the skills they need to succeed]. The

Father Knows Best basketball retreat stemmed from my relationship with my

father. He’s a man of character, of principle, and of extreme love. We still

share a great relationship so I felt like him being a coach, there so many

parallels between his role in my life and a coach – a basketball coach and a

life coach and that’s really what a father figure should be.

 

And then even as a coach you have to have relationships, you

know, from senior management. We call God our senior management, and we kind of

embrace parallels between basketball and life. We play basketball, do fun

activities, and shooting drills and at the end of the day, we just try to

understand what being a real man is. 

 

AllHipHop.com: They

both sound like great programs. As far as the business education development

program, what is the selection process like?

 

Allan Houston: A lot of people come to allanhouston.com and

they register and we let them know through some promotional activities when the

classes start and when they can sign up. There is a process. We have an

interview stage and there are some requirements. The age is usually 18-25 years

old. The biggest requirement is that you really need to have a serious business

interest. You can’t come in and say “I’m just trying to figure out what I want

to do in life.”

 

Everybody has to come in focused on their business. Some of

them are already in operations, they just need to understand a little bit more

about how they can improve it and some people have a great business idea but

they’re just starting out. And that’s really one of the main requirements for

us. The two winners of the program get $20,000 and 12 months free office space.

We have great sponsors in Lenovo and Citigroup who have helped us start the

program, so everything we do at this point is really about equipping our young

adults and young people.

 

AllHipHop.com: Have

any classes graduated already?

 

Allan Houston: We graduated Harlem this past September, and

we’ll graduate New Orleans at the end of June. And right now, we’re probably going

to be raising some funds and trying to get some support so we can continue to

grow in different cities.

 

AllHipHop.com: Let’s

talk more about the Father’s Knows Best Basketball Retreat. What can we expect

from your event coming up on Father’s Day, a two-on-two celebrity event at Rucker Park?

 

Allan Houston: We have a two-day event. That Friday we’ll

kick off the retreat, and we’ll probably have about 200 fathers-and-sons, or

mentors-and-mentees. We’ll have games, workshops, you know, a shooting camp me

and my dad put on. The Saturday before Father’s Day we have competitions and

then we go to Rucker Park, where we’ll probably have the finals of the shootout

and a celebrity two-on-two shootout, so we’re still looking forward to that.

We’re just waiting on some confirmations but it’s going to be a lot of fun and

I’m looking forward to it.

 

AllHipHop.com: Are

you participating in the shooting contest yourself?

Allan Houston: Yeah, I participate in everything. I go

through everything, so that’s what makes it fun for me and my dad and my son.

 

AllHipHop.com: What

is the main message that you want to get across through your Father Knows Best

Basketball Retreat?

 

Allan Houston: I think growing up many of us, you know, as

young men, we’re all getting taught by media and by so many different angles

about what being a real man is, what we were created to be. And the message is,

we want to understand what that is and teach our young men what it means to

have integrity, what it means to work hard, what it means to treat women with

respect and how to handle those relationships.

 

It’s basically a skill development message for young men,

and those same principles are applicable on the basketball court. So we try to

draw parallels, and at the end of the day we want coaches, and the fathers, and

the father figures to be that main influence and coach our young kids through

life as well as on the basketball court.

 

AllHipHop.com: Are

you planning to expand the basketball retreat into other cities?

 

Allan Houston: We’re looking to start a camp which is more a

one day event in the Burroughs of New York with the same concept. We’re putting

that together now. And then after that, once we are effectively operating and

managing that, then we’d love to take it to different cities, but the camp will

have the same mission and goals as the Father Knows Best retreat.

 

AllHipHop.com: Where

can people find out more about your foundation?

 

Allan Houston: People can go to the website at AllanHouston.com, and they can find out how to support or participate.

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