July 26, 2011
"I can't believe we beat you guys," my seven-year-old daughter beamed in the car. "We beat you. I can't believe we beat you - girls rule."
That sums up my ride and probably every other dads' ride home from Bobcats Assistant Coach Stephen Silas' Dad and Daughter Basketball Clinic on July 26, 2011 at Time Warner Cable Arena, and I couldn't have asked for more out of a clinic the two of us won't soon forget.
The clinic was set up as part of the Cats Care initiative and attended by Season Ticket Holders and a winning pair from the Bobcats Facebook fan page, but was initiated by Silas himself, who began these camps back when he was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors. What first started as a father and son camp thanks to the relationship he has with his father, Bobcats Head Coach Paul Silas, quickly turned into father and daughter camps as the younger Silas welcomed two daughters, Kyler and Kaelyn, into the Silas family.
"Basketball has given my family and I so much, and I just want to give it back," said Silas. "There is no other person who can teach a daughter what a real man is better than a dad. You're the person they look up to and they see your commitment to hard work, your drive to give your family the best and your love and enthusiasm while doing so. I wanted to share that on the basketball court."
It was a rare occasion for Jayden, and I, as for the first time in my seven years with the Bobcats, I wasn't just covering an event. Jayden and I were a part of it, and as we went through our stretching, shooting drills, dribbling drills, passing drills and defense drills, we were both soaking in the moment of being out there on the court together playing the game we love.
Yes, the dads ultimately lost to the daughters in the biggest event of the clinic where two basketballs were placed at center court with dads on one sideline and daughters on the other. Each tandem was assigned a number and when Silas called it off, we raced to grab a ball and run down to make a layup. Tied 4-4 in a game to five, guess who's number got called? You got it. Guess who made the shot? Not me.
"It's okay dad," Jayden told me later. "At least the dads won the dribbling drill."
As Jayden raced down the court to give Silas a big high-five, I couldn't help but think of his words to us to begin the clinic.
"This is an experience that you might never have again - to be on an NBA basketball court, working with your dad or daughter and having fun around the game of basketball," he said. "The game of basketball is just a vehicle for what can be a great family experience."