August 26, 2010
Last summer, the NBA world marveled as Kobe Bryant(notes) learned a lethal post game from none other than Hakeem Olajuwon. Seeing one Hall of Famer teach a future one post moves is pretty cool, if you're a basketball nerd. Furthermore, it was awesome to see one of the NBA's best players trying to get better, because that's what it's all about. Also, the Hokey Pokey, but you probably already knew that.
Learning from one of the best ever is quite a way to spend a summer, and it's one that not a lot of NBA players get a chance to experience. You don't see David Robinson teaching Brendan Haywood(notes) how to run the fast break, after all. So when you consider that Roy Hibbert(notes) had his choice of legendary tutors this summer, you realize he was extremely lucky. From Mike Wells at the Indianapolis Star:
Roy Hibbert's eyes lit up like a 5-year-old on Christmas morning when Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird approached him last spring with an idea for the offseason.
Bird asked the Pacers center if he wanted some help, and tossed out the names of three potential teachers: Bill Russell, Bill Walton or Kevin McHale. All three are Hall of Fame big men.
"He said it would probably be one of those three guys. I just had to give him my summer schedule so he could set it up with one of them," Hibbert said. "Who wouldn't want to work with those guys?"
Not a bad way to spend your summer, eh? "Hey, which of these amazingly talented, best of all-time post players would you like to have train you this summer? Just let me — Larry Bird, one of the best basketball players ever — know when you get a chance." Lucky guy.
Even better, because he spent so much time with Walton, Hibbert got his very own customized Walton praise.
"It's an honor for me to work with such a fine young man, such an outstanding talent with such an outstanding package," Walton said. "He has tremendous potential. We are working on his total game. Summertime is when the championships are won. Physical fitness and skill development."
Yeah, there's probably no better feeling than having Bill Walton hyperbolizing about how great you are at basketball. It'd be like living in a dream world of magic. Heck, I'd buy a 12-second Walton-ism for $50 if he offered such a service.
Who knows how much this is going to help Roy Hibbert, but if he learns even three defensive tricks from Walton, that's good news for the Pacers. And, of course, it's good news for Hibbert because, well, he got to hang out with Bill Walton all summer.