Hornets.com 1-on-1: Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com
December 15, 2010
Hornets.com caught up with Sacramento center Samuel Dalembert prior to Wednesdays game at the New Orleans Arena.
Dalembert is in the midst of his ninth NBA season, and his first with the Kings after being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers this summer, with whom he spent the first eight seasons of his pro career. The Seton Hall product is one of the top shot blockers in the league, but his greatest accomplishments have come off the court, where he has won numerous community service awards. As the only Haitian-born player in the NBA, he continues to be deeply involved in recovery projects to aid his homeland in the wake of the tragic earthquake that hit the country last year.
Hornets.com: You were on the 76ers when current Hornets Willie Green and Jason Smith were rookies with the team. What do you remember about them as young players?
Dalembert: The first thing I remember about both of them is that they were young, ambitious, hard-working, and listened, especially Willie. Willie didnt have the opportunity to step on the floor that much early on, because there were other players in front of him so he had to wait. Overall, he just kept on working and being professional. Jason, hes a big man like me. I liked going at him in practice because hes very tough he was always bleeding at practice [laughs], bruised, always pushing, playing hard. Its the same way now. He keeps playing hard. Those are two guys, now getting the opportunity and chance Im so glad and so happy to see them out there showing how their hard work paid off. They have the chance to prove what they can do.
Hornets.com: Was there any specific advice you gave Jason?
Dalembert: When I left (he was traded from Philadelphia in June while Smith was still a 76er) I told Jason keep your head up, keep on working, one day all this hard work will pay off. It was tough because having a guy like me who never took a game off, it was tough for him to get minutes. On top of that, we had other big men coming in. Its always favoritism on teams, but I always liked Jasons game. Hes very active, all over the place. He hurt us last game (Smith had 8 points and 7 rebounds against the Kings on Nov. 21). I just wish him well and that hell keep progressing and keep getting better.
Hornets.com: Are there any funny stories or initiations you put Willie or Jason through?
Dalembert: Willie came at a time where he had some good veterans and they didnt do too much to him, this boy from Detroit. Jason, we tried to do some stuff, made him carry some bags and do some stuff. Hes always been a humble, nice guy, but tough-nosed on the court. Thats what I like.
Hornets.com: You are one of the most philanthropic players in the NBA (he was the recipient of the 2009-10 J. Walter Kennedy Citizen Award and 2010 Naismith Hall of Fame Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award, among others). What have you taken away from your experiences, specifically your six stints with the NBAs Basketball Without Borders program (taking him to China, Italy, Argentina, France, Lithuania and Brazil)?
Dalembert: I have been doing Basketball Without Borders from the first time they started to do it. It was a privilege and honor to be a part of it and get the experience with a new country, new culture. I got to meet new people, got to communicate. The one thing I learned is that no matter where you are, the sky is always the sky and people are always going to be people and they have a lot of similar things in common. In dealing with kids and children, they all have the passion and love, and want to play the game, play the game right. We use the game as a tool, talking to them about a way of life. Teaching them things that every day will carry on for the rest of their lives. I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of people about protecting themselves out there, how to be a human being and show courtesy and things like that. Its been great.
Hornets.com: Your involvement in the Haitian relief efforts has been well documented. What is the situation in the country like now and what are you continuing to do for the people there?
Dalembert: With my foundation (the Samuel Dalembert Foundation), my sole goal is to be able to have a way to raise as much money as possible to build I would say the only academy to provide opportunities for young children in Haiti. In my spare time, Im in collaboration with UNICEF doing purification of water systems. As you know, still not much has moved forward, were (Haitians) still living in tents, and drinking water is the number one problem. As you can see, theres contamination and things like that, so Im concentrating my focus on that, providing good water. Also, providing activities for the kids. Hopefully, when we get the academy going its a cultural academy. As much as I love sports, sometimes there are kids with different talents. We have music and art, stuff like that. I want to be able to provide the tools over there for all of the kids. Right now, in my spare time, Im helping with building some schools that collapsed with some close friends in smaller organizations that I know, doing one little thing at a time until the main goal is reality. Eventually that is going to happen.
Hornets.com: What can people do to help with the ongoing efforts?
Dalembert: The number one thing I would say is for people to go to my foundation, dalembertfoundation.org and make a donation. Theres other things you can do to help: we are looking for books, well be more than happy to accept things like that. If you want to sponsor computers and things for the future you can do that too. Eventually on our website, were going to have a summary of everything were trying to do. If people want to support education, they can support education. If they want to support other activities, they can support other activities. Were going to have a program for the elderly, for people with disabilities, and those with broken legs and things like that. We are also working with agriculture, doing research for the agricultural part of recovery. Were trying to reach a little bit at a time, but most importantly we try to make the money go to use to the point where it can sustain itself in the long run.
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