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.
Hes accomplished a lot in his life, on the
court and off, but hed be the first to tell you he didnt 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 its 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.
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.
NBA has had its struggles with image in the past. What are your thoughts on the
state of the league today?
Allan Houston: Ive never thought of the NBA as being down,
from my perspective, I mean its a great game. I mean I feel like the time Ive
been traveling and going overseas, everyones been excited about the game. I
think this year its become one of the best years in a long time because youre
starting to see a lot of young talented players.
You look at Atlanta, you look at Orlando, you look at teams
like New Orleans. Its fun because younger players are starting to really learn
and grow, and David Stern has done a good job.
said youve 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. Ive had a
chance to watch a little bit, but its hard to watch everything. In the
playoffs youre always going to have something unexpected that happens. Weve
come to expect the unexpected. The exciting thing about the playoffs is youre
always going to have some guys that come out, step onto that stage and take
advantage of that stage. Theres 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
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, its hard to bet against the Lakers
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, hes a very tough match up. With Pau, Kobe, and Lamar, I think
theyll be tough to beat. And then with San
Antonio, everything [used to be] centered around Tim
Duncan, but now its 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.
Its tough, because Phoenix didnt give us any ideas of how
San Antonio is really going to be. I think the best series and the one Im 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. Hes capable of getting you twenty
something points but hes also capable of getting you 15 assists.
is your favorite playoff memory?
Allan Houston: Its 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.
talk about the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation. What inspired you to create the
Allan Houston: I think the goals of the program are very
similar to my goals growing up. The various things wed 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, dont get to see what thats 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. Hes 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 thats 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.
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 cant come in and say Im 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
theyre just starting out. And thats 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.
any classes graduated already?
Allan Houston: We graduated Harlem this past September, and
well graduate New Orleans at the end of June. And right now, were probably going
to be raising some funds and trying to get some support so we can continue to
grow in different cities.
talk more about the Fathers Knows Best Basketball Retreat. What can we expect
from your event coming up on Fathers Day, a two-on-two celebrity event at Rucker Park?
Allan Houston: We have a two-day event. That Friday well
kick off the retreat, and well probably have about 200 fathers-and-sons, or
mentors-and-mentees. Well have games, workshops, you know, a shooting camp me
and my dad put on. The Saturday before Fathers Day we have competitions and
then we go to Rucker Park, where well probably have the finals of the shootout
and a celebrity two-on-two shootout, so were still looking forward to that.
Were just waiting on some confirmations but its going to be a lot of fun and
Im looking forward to it.
you participating in the shooting contest yourself?
Allan Houston: Yeah, I participate in everything. I go
through everything, so thats what makes it fun for me and my dad and my son.
is the main message that you want to get across through your Father Knows Best
Allan Houston: I think growing up many of us, you know, as
young men, were 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.
Its 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.
you planning to expand the basketball retreat into other cities?
Allan Houston: Were looking to start a camp which is more a
one day event in the Burroughs of New York with the same concept. Were putting
that together now. And then after that, once we are effectively operating and
managing that, then wed love to take it to different cities, but the camp will
have the same mission and goals as the Father Knows Best retreat.
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.