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Miami Heat Dedicate Briland Basketball, Court (Guardian)
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Posted by:Aug 23rd 2007, 06:50:35 pm
Fig Tree News Team
Heat dedicates Basketball Court

By BIS WRITER, For the Guardian

HARBOUR ISLAND, North Eleuthera The 2006 National Basketball Association (NBA) Champions Miami Heat may soon be scouting this tourist destination for talent. The seed for that aspiration was planted Friday, August 17, 2007, when the Heat dedicated an entire basketball court system to the Harbour Island All-Age School (HIAAS).

"It is good to know that wholesome activities are being provided for children as a positive choice to the many distractions that exist today that may lead them astray," said Minister of State for Youth and Sports, the Hon. Byran Woodside.

In a partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, the Heat brings youth programs to The Bahamas, including charitable events, basketball clinics and educational programs. The Heat also works with the Ministry of Tourism to develop co-branded marketing programs that highlight the relationship between the organizations.

Bahamas Theme Nights, signing sessions at various arena events, co-branded advertising and promotions on are included in these initiatives.

The basketball court system for HIAAS was the idea of Miami Heat executive Steve Weber who, during his many visits to the island, was moved by the state of the basketball court. He made its restoration his personal project.

Lifetime Products' system is being used for the project. With Bahamian ex-NBA player Dexter Cambridge, formerly of the Dallas Mavericks, making a guest appearance, they were all welcomed by Ministry of Tourism manager Prescott Young.

Harbour Island, well known around the world for its breathtaking beaches, was ranked the best island in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Harbour Islanders and fans from the Eleuthera mainland turned out in full force to welcome Heat's veteran playmaker Walter 'Wali' Jones, forward Udonis Haslem, and the Heat's executive and coaching staff.

"I wanted to stress to them the importance of education," said Haslem, who led the children in a reading session. He was joined by Miss Teen Harbour Island Britney Percentie.

"They watch television and they see the basketball and they just want to think about that," Haslem added, "but I want them to understand that it all starts with discipline in the classroom; educating yourself first to get to the point where we are at right now. The most important thing is educating themselves early."

Testing the new court, Jones joined by members of the Heat coaching staff, led scores of youngsters in basic basketball drills. He promised to return for a full basketball camp when the court has been completed.

"You have lots of talent here," beamed Jones, a basketball scout and long-time visitor to The Bahamas. "I enjoy seeing the kids come out."

These facilities will go a long way in promoting basketball on Harbour Island and encouraging youngsters to consider professional sports as a career, noted the Hon. Alvin Smith, North Eleuthera Member of Parliament and Speaker of the House of Assembly.

"Sports is alive and well on Harbour Island," he said. "We have a lot of talent in various disciplines and these facilities will indeed be an impetus toward strengthening our sports program. I thank the Miami Heat for making this event possible. You have demonstrated what a dedicated partner you are," he added.

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