The list of people associated with hosting New Orleans Pelicans summer camps deserves recognition. Dyson Daniels and EJ Liddell visited the Rosenwald Recreation Center in New Orleans after their introductory press conference. Zion Williamson’s New Orleans YMCA camp just ended, Willie Hernangomez is representing the team at European camps, and New Orleans broadcaster Antonio Daniels is passing his love of the game on to San Antonio kids through the Daniels Family Foundation.
Daniels told Pelicans Scoop that he hopes to join the roster of local New Orleans camps soon. The former New Orleans Hornet said in various parts of the interview, “I love New Orleans” and “we couldn’t afford to go to camps as a kid.” That’s why he wants to bring this affordable one-week program to the Crescent City.
This year’s camp will be two separate one-week sessions held at Brooks Collegiate Academy. The first camp is July 18-22, 2022, and the second comes the week of August 1-5, 2022. Campers who register in advance will receive a camp t-shirt and an autographed photo of the broadcaster who made the turtle famous again . Daniels “will do his best to talk to every camper during the week.”
There are also promotional videos from previous camps on social media so parents and participants can see what level of intensity to expect. All ages and skill levels are welcome as there will be many special guests and college players helping out as staff members.
“I’m a firm believer, man, that God blesses us to bless others. He does not bless us so that we can keep everything to ourselves. My camp is not about basketball. Basketball is part of it, but the thing I realized is how many parallels there are between life and basketball. Kids need to hear this. You know, they need to hear the positive things that are happening in such a dark world. They need to know that when I step into that gym, I will be every day. Although I am 47 years old, I am the most energetic person. I don’t know what the kids are doing at home. I have no idea. But they need to know that when they come to my camp, it’s going to be a safe place for them to learn and develop.” Daniels told Pelicans Scoop.
According to the itinerary, players will “go through practices and drills in the morning session and play games in the afternoon…Each kid will be assigned to a team with a coach. Our goal is for all kids to have a great time and learn some of the basics of the game.”
The former San Antonio Spurs and 1999 NBA Finals champion showed he’s still got some moves in a local TV appearance to promote the 21st year of hosting the camp. However, it’s the coaching itch that’s starting to become hard to ignore now that he’s seeing the impact that can be made in the role.
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“I’ve met a lot of people all over town who have been campers and now their kids are going through camp. I think that’s a testament to the work and what this camp really stands for. You know, I tell parents all the time, this is the best camp for a kid. And I swear, man, one day, one day, if God loves me enough, I’d like to take this to New Orleans. I would love to take it to New Orleans because I know the product that I have is so different than any other camp.”
“Every kid at this camp feels that me and my coaching staff care, that we care. We care. And not for them as athletes. Parents will know, it’s not about whether or not they have improved in the fundamental aspect of the sport but are they different kids? I’ve had kids cry on Mondays because they didn’t want to be dropped off. This same kid was leading 200-300 players in prayer to start camp on Friday. Watching the kids mature and progress throughout the week with around adults who are as engaged, invested and caring about them as little kids. I’m telling you, it’s the highlight of my summer.”
Daniels watched NBA Summer League action, but reiterated that it was “The pinnacle of my summer…nothing makes my heart feel better. It’s a life camp slash basketball camp. I tell parents all the time that if their kid turns out to be a better basketball player, but the same person, I failed. I want them to be better people when they walk out those doors. While I want to teach them the basics of the sport. Dribbling, passing, defense, communication. A lot of these things parallel life because the coach will also be the teacher.”
As for bringing the camp to New Orleans, Daniels “loves the people of New Orleans, the culture of New Orleans, and I love the way the fans have welcomed me as an analyst. Daniels explained that he is busy during the season and the logistics of hosting are overwhelming, but if there is an “opportunity…over the summer” a camp will happen.
He admitted that “there are kids who have no idea who I am, and that’s great. This is good. But I want them to know me as someone who really cares about them, about their future well-being. And again, we are all blessed with a platform. We are all blessed with a platform in some way to impact those who come after us in some way. This is one of the gifts that God has given me, is an opportunity to connect with the younger generation.”
The beloved broadcaster added: “If I have the opportunity to do this and bring them to New Orleans, I’m telling you, I’ve had conversations with people over the past year about it. But it takes a lot to pull it all together. I promise. I promise that one thing I want to do with my time in New Orleans is bring my basketball camp there and serve this community.”
More than a handful of former players have gone on to successful college careers. Some are current students who are returning to help the next generation, following Daniels’ example. For anyone who wants to get involved, the camp is accepting sponsors for lunch. Visit the information page on the Daniels Family Camp website for more information on how to help.