McGary Makes First Impact in the OKC Community
By Nick Gallo | Thunder Basketball Writer | email@example.com
Thunder rookie forward Mitch McGary’s last three weeks have been a whirlwind. He was drafted nearly three weeks ago at number 21 overall, worked out for a few days in Oklahoma City, was whisked away to Orlando for the NBA’s Summer League a week later and is now back in town for his first stint with a chance to get acclimated to his new surroundings.
Instead of taking that time to breathe, McGary decided to spend his free hours giving back. The 6-foot-10 forward from the University of Michigan strolled into the gym at Casady School on Wednesday to surprise the kids at the Thunder Youth Basketball Camp, and was immediately greeted by 75 campers sporting Thunder gear and big smiles. One camper, however, caught McGary’s eye right away because of the massive Thunder logo shaved into the back of his head.
McGary sought out the 11-year-old Michael Parsons, whose haircut seemed to be the talk of the camp. The two chatted for a while, McGary helped Parsons work on his post moves, and the duo both certainly had a fun anecdote to remember after the session ended.
“I said, ‘That’s pretty cool, my parents wouldn’t let me do that when I was younger’,” McGary explained with a laugh. “It just shows their support and how greatly they appreciate this team.”
Everywhere McGary looked, there were signs of Thunder fanatics all over the court. One camper exclaimed, “I can’t believe I just met a Thunder player!” while two other campers sported matching Thunder tattoos, drawn in permanent marker, of course. It was McGary’s first official community appearance in Oklahoma City besides his introductory press conference at the Oklahoma History Museum, so it was one that he took to heart.
“There’s amazing support and the fan base here is amazing,” McGary said. “Just to come out and give back for the first time is incredible. I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but for me to even do this and take some time out and spend some time out with some kids is pretty awesome and a great feeling.”
“It’s pretty cool to come out and see little kids who think of you as somebody, they obviously look up to you literally but they look up to you and think of you highly,” McGary explained. “They just think the world of you. It’s pretty cool.”
McGary reminisced on the fact that he never had the opportunity to attend a camp like the Thunder Youth Basketball Camps when he was a child growing up, where an NBA player might simply saunter in unannounced. Alongside a bevy of coaches with high school, collegiate and even professional experience, McGary helped Parsons and the rest of the 11-to-16-year old campers with all aspects of their games.
“They’re very helpful,” Parsons said. “They’ll really help you with your dribbling, posting up, passing and shooting.”
As for his own game, McGary plans to be in Oklahoma City honing his own skills throughout the rest of the summer. Engraining himself into the community is a steady process and one that started on his first day in town, continued with his play on the court in Summer League and further deepened on Wednesday at Casady School. Getting his body in peak physical condition while learning more about his new city and spending time with Oklahoma City citizens are all on the to-do list for McGary this summer, and he’s thrilled about the prospect of making Oklahoma his home.
“I plan on being here from here on out and just working out and trying to get acclimated to the new city, which is pretty awesome,” McGary said. “I’m trying to find some new restaurants to eat at and I’m just having fun with it right now, taking it all in.”
Click the following link for more information and to sign up for Thunder Youth Basketball Camps: http://www.nba.com/thunder/thunder-youth-basketball-grows