Tag: AAU Basketball

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks

Jazz coach Corbin says blame AAU for the Miami Heat


You heard it right after LeBron James talked about where his talents were going — other older players jumped up and said they would not have done this. They would not have willingly joined forces with other superstars to chase rings.

Former NBA player and current Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin gets that.

He told the Deseret News the culture is different than when he played and says AAU basketball — the traveling high school All-Star teams that play through the summer — is the reason.

“Just thinking back in the day when I was younger in the league, superstar guys wanted to have their own show. It’s changed,” Corbin said. “These kids they grew up in AAU, being on all-star teams, and they’re used to playing with superstar guys. And they want that kind of team because … they have a chance to win big every night. They want to win championships and not have to be the only guy getting it done.”

Added Corbin: “I think it’s a change for this new generation of kid who’s used to being on these superstar teams from the AAU thing.”

So if you hate the Heat, blame AAU basketball. Which is fine, AAU gets blamed for a lot of things (the deterioration of fundamentals among younger players, isolation basketball, the lack of a midrange game in the NBA, global warming).

Also know what AAU spawned and what LeBron James did this summer resonates through the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Small market owners see what happened with Miami, what Carmelo Anthony did with Denver, and they want their control back. (If they ever had it, but that’s another story.) You see Utah trading away Deron Williams before he can even think about becoming a free agent because they believe they can’t keep him after his deal is up. Small and middle-sized market owners want the ability to keep their stars, and that is going to be a big part of the subtext of the CBA talks.

Some NBA players pushing a reform of AAU basketball


Virtually every American-born player in the NBA has come through the AAU program.

It is the “club teams” of high school basketball. The off-season traveling teams that are designed to let the best push themselves, and face the other best young players. It was envisioned as a way to boost the Olympic program, a way to improve American players.

It’s also the home to the ugly sides of recruiting, paid players, perks and everything that is seedy about youth basketball. Runners are befriending players they will later try to steer to specific agents or marketing firms. Some AAU coaches end up with undo influence over younger players, and ride their coattails. It has become a place where exploitation can thrive in the shadows.

There are plenty of cries for reform, but little happens.

Enter a number of NBA players, who are forming their own teams on their own terms, as Associated Press reports.

Terry is now among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of current and former NBA players with their own clubs, guys like LeBron James, Lamar Odom, Devin Harris and Mike Bibby…

“We don’t want the kids to be exploited at such a young age,” Harris said. “We want … to do it the right way.”

Harris and James are among those who’ve taken over the program they came through. James — whose AAU career was documented in the movie “More Than A Game” — sponsors fifth-graders to 16-and-under.

“I wanted kids to have that same experience that me and my friends had,” he said. “If you don’t have the right support system, the right guidance running the program, then it can get really bad.”

The needed changes to AAU could fill a book, not just a blog post. But this is a start. The key is players giving more than just their name, but taking an active role and following through.