Jazz center John Amaechi has made himself into an NBA-quality big man since going undrafted out of Penn State in 1995. Entering his second season in Utah, John has spent this summer focusing on the skills of other basketball players.
Amaechi realized a dream of his this past August 14th by opening the Amaechi Basketball Centre on the site of Whalley Range High School in Manchester, England. The $4 million facility was conceived and financed entirely by Amaechi and will be under the direction of The Greater Manchester Community Basketball and Sports Association. The centre includes three International-sized basketball courts, an aerobics studio, fitness suite and physiotherapy services and will provide both mentoring resources and athletic programs specifically geared towards adolescents.
Amaechi was born in Boston, raised in Manchester, England and went to high school in Toledo, Ohio. John earned a degree in psychology from Penn State and is currently in a doctorate program focusing on child clinical psychology.
John chatted live on nba.com on Thursday, August 22. See what he had to say about his basketball centre, his goals for the upcoming season and more.
Marc (Las Vegas): Hi John. It's great to see an NBA player do something for a community (basketball center). Question: What have you done during the offseason to prepare for the up coming NBA regular season. Good luck this year.
John Amaechi: I have been working out here in England and doing my normal training regime in Phoenix with my trainer.
Chris (Salt Lake): John, I was just wondering if any of your Jazz teammates (or any other NBA players) would be helping out with your new Basketball Centre?P.S. Good luck with the Jazz this year -- the fans are pulling for you to have a great season!
John Amaechi: No, my teammates are ususally too busy with offseason preparation to help out.
Tony Shorey (uk): My son went to your camp thought it was great; have you any plans to open another centre elsewhere in the UK?
John Amaechi: Definitly. With the success of this first camp, we're looking to expand.
Alan (Milford Haven): Hi John, I'm a Jazz fan living in Wales. Could you tell me how you got into basketball? Thanks
John Amaechi: I basically was walking down the street in Manchester and a couple people asked me if I wanted to play, and they got me involved with my first coach, Joe Sorber.
Harry G (manchester): Hey John, it's Harry how was dinner yesterday?
How do you think Raul Lopez will help the Jazz?
John Amaechi: Dinner was great. I think he will be a definite help to our playoff challenge.
Scott SLC: Hi John, what kind of impact do you think that Andre will have on the jazz this year? Do you think the Jazz will be a better team this year?
John Amaechi: I think Andre, with a year of experience, will be even better this year -- although teams will be looking out for him this year. I think we have to wait for the end of offseason movement to know what type of team we'll be this year.
Jacob Wirth: I think you opening up that centre is awesome. What do you think you can bring to the Jazz this year? I know it takes time to gel with a new team, but what can you bring to Utah?
John Amaechi: I think that my strengths in the past have been inside scoring, running the break and getting easy baskets. And I have to get back to doing that .
Kevin Carlson Just outside of Salt Lake City: What is different playing with Utah vs. Orlando?
John Amaechi: It's two completely different philosophies. The Jazz are structured and have run the same type of plays for 20 years. The Magic were more free-wheeling.
Mike(SLC UT): What are your personal goals for the upcoming season with the Jazz?
John Amaechi: Really it's to get back to where I know I should be -- a significant part of the team and one of the better big men at my position.
Carl (SLC): How do you deal with the critics or the hard to please fans that say you don't care enough for/about the game and that you don't seem to look confident out on the floor?
John Amaechi: I can't control what people think. All I can say is I'm a professional, and I work very hard -- harder than some who claim to love the game. As for my demeanor, I have the same demeanor just about all the time on the court.
Sam (Morgantown, WV): Hey Meech! How's the doctorate thing going? How do you manage to do that and play basketball?
John Amaechi: It's going slowly because I'm doing it while playing. It's steady progress, and I hope to be finished before my playing days are through.
Mesa: I think you are a fabulous player and don't give yourself enough credit for your abilities and talent. It is good to see international players do so well in the NBA. What are your plans after you are finished playing basketball?
John Amaechi: My plans are to use my degrees and work in child psychology in one way or another.
Jacob,14: Hey John, after being on the team with Stockton, how many years do you think he has left in the NBA?
John Amaechi: I think John and Karl are both players who, because of their professionalism, will be able to play for a few more years. But I think priorities with their families will be the deciding factor.
Joe Binder Franklin Wi: Dear John, How good do you think Yao Ming will be this year?
John Amaechi: Being in England, I haven't actually seen any of the tape of him at all. So I don't really know how he plays, but I'm told he's playing very well in the World Championships, so I'd imagine he'll do well.
John (Sandy, Utah): Hey Big John, How have you enjoyed your summer? Have you done anything special to get in top condition and to improve your game for the upcoming season?
John Amaechi: My summer's been very busy with camps and the opening of the center. But I've managed to keep up with my fitness program and look to be in good shape for the upcoming season.
Tim (oklahoma city): Hi John. I enjoyed your game while at Orlando. How're you helping Jarron Collins improve?
John Amaechi: Collins was a sponge. Collins was great this year and took in any information the veterans offered. He was a pleasure to work with.
Halvard Helle Kristiansand/Norway: Who's the best British basketball player?
John Amaechi: I'm not yet modest enough to say it isn't me.
CUintheNBA: What is it like having a "fierce competitor" like Jerry Sloan as a coach?
John Amaechi: It's an adjustment.
Sam (Morgantown, WV): Who were your non-basketball related role-models growing up?
John Amaechi: My mother was the ultimate role model in every way.
john nakata(hong kong): Do you enjoy the life in Utah?
John Amaechi: I had the opportunity to make a lot of friends in Utah this year and, apart from the cold, I really enjoy it.
Carrie, GA: What do you think about your old teammate Matt Harpring joining the Jazz? Do you think you will get him to drink Earl Grey Tea with you?
John Amaechi: Matt was never big on drinking the tea, but I think he'll be a valuable addition to the team.
Stephen (Manchester, ENG): How does it feel to live the dream of so many British youngsters and actually reach the NBA?
John Amaechi: I'm very grateful for the opportunities that I've had and the guidance I've gotten allowed me to get here.
peter , france: For you, the hole betwen the NBA and Europe will be close in ?? Next year, 5 year, 10 years?? You play each night vs European players, what's the difference in their game?? Thanks for answering!
John Amaechi: I think the difference between NBA and Europe is that the quanity of great players in the NBA is greater. In the NBA there are six or seven good players on every team. In Europe, it's usually three or four.
mike and vladimir, england: I'm an English guy getting ready to play college basketball next season in america ... can you give me some tips on how to prepare?
John Amaechi: Understand that living in another country is a huge adjustment and the intesity in basketball training is more than you're used to. Probably, conditioning is one of the keys in college basketball compared to Europe. Good luck.
John Amaechi: Thank you for the great questions, if anyone wants to get in touch, you can reach me at my Website, which is being revamped, www.meech.org.