Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lee Camp Belongs To Teaches


By Zach Smart

David Lee dished off an outlet pass and darted the length of the 94x50 basketball court at Horace Greeley High School.

It was a blistering August afternoon in 2012, the final day of the NBA star’s most recent one-week David Lee Basketball Camp.

Despite his allegiance with the Golden State Warriors, the team on which his game has flourished, Lee continues his Teaches Hoops David Lee Basketball Camp in Westchester County every summer.

Elmsford native Donovan Mitchell, who at 6-foot-4 is one of the tallest and most skilled campers, did his best to apply the clamps on the high-flying 6-foot-9 Lee.

Breaking free from Mitchell’s tight defense, Lee plucked a pass out of the air. He then reeled off an acrobatic spin move and dished to an astonishingly wide open teammate, Teaches Hoops counselor Jay Money.

Money lived up to is name, rewarding Lee for the pass by depositing a layup.

A crowd of nearly 600, including parents and locals, were wowed and unified. Some snapped pictures. Others, encased in Lee’s Golden State Warriors jersey, rose to a collective applause.

The fireworks didn’t stop there.

On the ensuing possession, Lee found himself all alone in transition. As if it was another game on the grueling 82-game NBA schedule, Lee crammed home a violent two-handed dunk, eliciting an ear-shattering eruption from the crowd.

The kid who once topped the hops-heavy James “Flight” White in the 2001 McDonald’s All American dunk contest, Lee is still known for his prominent vertical leap.

 During his sojourn into the New York City streetball scene a few summers ago, Lee’s array of dunks in traffic made him an essential ingredient on a Puff Daddy-coached squad at Kingdome.

 Opening up a once-lacking, feathery mid-range jumper has helped Lee's game thrive.

Lee’s days as a Knick may have withered under the weight of an Amare Stoudemire dunk, a Carmelo Anthony pull-up three-pointer, and a ferocious Tyson Chandler stickback.

The prime and pinnacle of Lee’s career may take place in Golden State, where he’s emerged into an All-Star and helped revive the once-ailing program. Slim sniper Stephen Curry has been a major part of the resurrection as well.

Lee’s outgoing personality and relentless energy, however, is on display every summer at Horace Greeley High in Chappaqua, N.Y.

 Camp director Terry Teachout said Lee’s constant interaction with the kids and love for basketball keeps him engaged in the off-season.

It also keeps the camp growing, growing, growing.

With a knack for subbing in on 5-on-5 camper games and playing knockout (he took his first defeat this summer, when one lucky camper finally broke his four-year streak), it’s clear Lee’s relationship with the campers keeps his presence in the Westchester/Chappaqua area alive.

“We’ve been doing these camps for I think, what is it four years now?” Lee asked Teaches Hoops founder and director Terry Teachout, before a sea of young onlookers on Aug. 12.

“I know there are plenty of familiar faces from when we first began and a lot of new faces as well. I may not be playing in New York anymore but each year, watching you guys grow as players and as people is what makes this a special experience. I really enjoyed watching you guys develop and improve on aspects of your game this summer. One of our mottos, as you all know, is ‘get better’ and it seems everyone is buying into that.”

Lee continued to address the crowd as parents snapped pictures and pointed video cameras at the big redhead from St. Louis.

“After we bring it in, I want to make sure you all remember to thank everyone who helped you get to this camp and be part of this experience,” Lee said.

Teachout, the president of Dierdrof-Stead, Inc., lives in Yorktown with his wife Jana and their two twin seven-year-old daughters, Haley and Taylor.

He’s been running basketball camps, after-school and training programs in the Westchester area for 24 years. A high-scoring high school legend in Ohio, Teachout played at Duquesne in the 1980s.

The man they call “Teach” has earned a reputation as a shooting instructor, performing a variety of jumper-sharpening drills at the rich basketball real estate of Mount Vernon. He’s worked with a number of professionals.

NBA players such as Al Harrington, Daniel “Booby” Gibson, and Andre Blatche are a few household names Teachout has trained. He’s had the most success with Lee.

Two seasons ago, Teachout worked relentlessly at rectifying Lee’s shallow sling shot and opening up a deep jumper.

“You never bite the hand that feeds you,” said Lee, sporting a sweat-drenched Golden State Warriors practice shirt and sweat pants.

“We’ve been working together pretty much every day after camp, from the time we started. Sometimes we get into one-on-one games. As you’ll see, it gets pretty intense at times. The kids and the staff here are all work hard and keep a steady focus throughout the course of the day. To us, it’s all about production, staying motivated, and getting better. That makes for a pretty good camp, year after year.”

Intensity, production and hard labor have defined Lee’s NBA career. His hard work and hustle allowed him to accelerate from bench player to the Knicks’ first NBA All-Star in nine years. Each summer, Lee is at camp every day, ingraining this work ethic in busloads of youngsters from the Westchester County and New York City area.

“David really has actual involvement with all the kids,” said Teachout.

 “He likes his camp so much that he remembers campers’ names and comes up with ideas to implement that enhance the camp. He’s very generous with his time, taking pictures and signing a lot of autographs personally for each and every camper. He played in numerous knockout games. He played in our annual Staff vs. camper game, during which he put up seven dunks. He also played in many league games with the campers as well.”

Teachout met Lee through a mutual friend after a Knicks game during the 2005-06 campaign, Lee's rookie season.

During that season, Lee and then-rookie teammates Channing Frye and Nate Robinson added a thrill factor off the bench for an otherwise anemic Knicks team.

“David and I had a brief conversation about shooting and then put it together,” said Teachout.

Camps, intensified one-on-one games, and shooting drills that help sustain a dependable deep jumper bring Lee back to New York—the basketball-crazed city where his career took off—summer after summer.

For more information on David Lee Basketball Camp or Teaches Hoops, kindly visit www.Teacheshoops.com or call 914-238-0278.