Shawn Kemp’s Fantasy Camp a conduit for fantasies and memories
Former SuperSonic brings in his friends for an uplifting event
Seattle Times staff reporter
Shawn Kemp put his stamp on Seattle’s basketball community after the SuperSonics picked up the product of Elkhart, Ind., in the first round of the 1989 NBA draft.
That stamp, it seems, is one that won’t wear off anytime soon.
The player also known as “Reign Man” has made a habit of giving back to the city he once played in.
Kemp, his wife Marvena and some of Seattle’s most heralded basketball players, past and present, collaborated to present the inaugural Reign Man Fantasy Basketball Camp, an event that kicked off Saturday morning at Seattle University’s Connolly Center.
Former University of Washington standout and Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes made a guest appearance, while former Husky shooting guard Donald Watts participated as a coach, teaming up with UW players Shawn Kemp Jr. and Desmond Simmons.
But Kemp’s “special guest” wouldn’t have any part in coaching or running along with the campers.
“I couldn’t run five steps today,” said Lenny Wilkens, former SuperSonic player and coach, who might be best remembered for the 1,332 games he won as an NBA coach — 478 of those with Seattle.
“Shawn’s just such a terrific young man, I had no reservations in coming,” Wilkens said. “Anything that he’s involved with is going to raise awareness.”
Following Wilkens’ pep talk, four teams of players were “drafted” by the guest coaches.
Players went head-to-head in mini scrimmages for the last couple of hours during the session. Kemp, not as nimble and quick as he once was, jumped in on occasion and made a living on the perimeter rather than in the post as he did during his heyday.
Judging by the success Saturday, Kemp anticipates that the fantasy camp could thrive in years to come.
“I was just happy to hear that these guys had fun today, that’s the biggest thing,” Kemp said. “Seattle’s a big basketball area, regardless of what anybody thinks. It doesn’t take the NBA to specify who we are.”
A Seattle product, Michael Isley was referred to the camp by a friend and couldn’t pass up the “priceless opportunity.” Isley’s parents had Sonics season tickets for 20 years and the 24-year-old relived some of the KeyArena glory produced by Kemp, Gary Payton and company.
“I always had the same seat, same ticket. I think it was section 124, row 13, seats three and four. I cherish those memories,” said Isley, who demonstrated some chemistry with Kemp on the hardwood. “He was saying we should run a little pick and roll. I was on the same team as him so he’s still got the competitive spirit.”
Three-time NBA All-Star and UW alum Brandon Roy is expected to attend Sunday.
Theo Lawson: 925-997-9175 or firstname.lastname@example.org