On January 21, 2023, about 50 people got the chance to practice their basketball skills at the New York Knicks’ “Saturday Night Lights” clinic at the Long Island City YMCA.
The two-hour event was the second in a series of five free basketball clinics presented by Nike and hosted by the New York Knicks in partnership with the YMCA of Greater New York and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).
DYCD Chief Public Affairs Officer Mark Zustovich said the Saturday Night Lights program is offered at 137 locations around the city, serving approximately 4,000 teenagers.
“This is a great program,” Zustovich said. “This is a Saturday night program to help young people stay involved and stay safe.”
The up-and-coming basketball stars had the chance to meet Knicks basketball legend John Starks. John Starks said it’s always nice to see young people smiling in a positive environment like Saturday Night Lights.
“It’s always good to have kids off the streets and be in a positive environment,” said Starks, an All-Star player who played for the Knicks from 1990 to 1998. , was that for me growing up, because I knew I could feel safe in an environment.”
Starks’ advice to anyone wanting to be the next Michael Jordan was to keep chasing their dreams.
“It’s all about hard work, and that’s the most important thing,” Starks said. “And don’t give up on yourself. Don’t let anyone doubt you. You can do whatever you want in life. But you have to work to achieve it.”
About six coaches showed teenagers how to strengthen their ball-handling and shooting skills after a warm-up that included push-ups and running drills.
Bill Singleton, a former professional basketball player and Knicks camp director, explained that this is the second year the Knicks are participating in the Saturday Night Lights.
“We are very lucky to have John Starks today,” said Singleton. “This organization does a great job of getting players involved in the community, especially reaching out to young people in underserved areas. We always try to give back in that way.” .”
Sharon Levy, senior vice president of public relations for the YMCA of Greater New York, said Knicks have been a great partner.
“We had a relationship with Knicks a few years ago. I did.”
Levy was in the garden with the Knicks as a kid in the ’80s and ’90s during some of the team’s tough losses and big wins.
“And I don’t think the kids had lost it either,” Levy said.
Julian Colon, 17, has been attending Saturday Night Lights events for about a year now, but this was his first time attending the Knicks Junior Clinic.
“I appreciate having an experienced coach here, teaching me skills and drills and making my game better,” Julian said. “And they gave me some nice shirts, too. Thank you for that.”
17-year-old Ramandeep Girr has been with ‘Saturday Night Lights’ for over two years. He said the program helped him improve his basketball skills.
“I couldn’t dribble the basketball well with my left hand. I couldn’t do my left hand layup,” Ramandeep said. He credits his YMCA coaching with improving his on-court performance. “Thanks to his Shaq, Dorjee and David as coaches, I was able to put in a lot of effort. They gave me the proper training.”
The remaining two clinics will be held on Saturday, March 4th at the Broadway YMCA in Staten Island and Saturday, April 8th at the Flatbush YMCA in Brooklyn. Plus, 10 of his YMCA’s teens will have a chance to play at Madison Square Garden Court on his April 9th before the Knicks take on the Pacers in Indiana.