“I’m where I need to be” – an interview with Scotty Hopson

by K. Kozla

On a rainy Tuesday night in New Jersey, Scotty Hopson honored me with a phone interview.  I call it an honor because he took time to call me even though he is racing against a countdown clock.   This one, however, is not to make the winning shot, but instead is to get all the loose ends tied up before he boards a plane on the way to Greece to play basketball for Kolossos Rhodes.  Racing to make sure the T’s were crossed and the I’s were dotted he, along with Larry Marshall, were moving to ensure that every last potential issue was being preemptively dealt with.  However, I felt that he would be able to handle a variety of situations being thrown at him after I spoke with him.

As Scotty was growing up basketball was a part of his life.  He told me that, “from the day I picked up the ball I had dreams of being big (in the sport).”  I asked him when he started to play in an organized team and if he had players that he looked up to and he told me that he, “started playing organized basketball (when he was) around 8 years old” and continued to expand talking about how he “idolized guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, both who played (his) position, though Kobe was definitely more from his generation and thus more influential on him.

While he had dreams of going big and wanting to play for the NBA he did not realize just how possible that earlier dream of becoming a star was until he reached high school.   It was then that he, “started to receive college recruitment letters in (his) freshman year” and he, “realized that (colleges) were interested him,” even at such an early point in high school, “and (he) could turn (his) dreams into reality.  So (he) worked on being the best player (he) could be.  (He) still does”.

Larry and Scotty Training
Photograph by Rodney Laing

It was then that I started to bring up the man who set up this interview for me, Larry Marshall.  I was interested in when he met him, how that all came to be.  Scotty told me that it was during a High School game in the middle of the season that he first met Larry.  Scotty was a Junior at the time and Larry had been traveling and visiting family.  One of Larry’s nephews were playing in the game that Scotty was.  Scotty explained that, “during the game (Larry) took notice of me… and after the game he spoke to (Scotty), got information about (Scotty) and talked to (his) mother and family.”  That was where the relationship started and Scotty came to New Jersey to train with Larry here.

Scotty and Larry’s relationship has been growing over the last five plus years.  When I asked Scotty what kind of effect Larry had on his life I could hear the smile on his face.  He enthusiastically responded, “A great deal, not only on my training, but life skills.  He mentors me on life and family on and off the court.  He has always been there for me for anything, ANYTHING, that I need and has even been there for my mother and what she needs.  I can always turn to him for advice.  He’s like a father figure to me”

He brought up how life has not always been as smooth as he may have liked saying that being undrafted helped him mature as an individual and grow as a person, but when I asked him ultimately where he would like to be he said, “Well, I am where God wants me to be.  A lot of times in life you may have things you do not want to go through, but you need to in order to be the best person you can be.  I need to be right where I am.”

Humble and focused Scotty is getting ready for the next adventure in his life.  With the drive and desire that he has I know that he will go far on and off of the court.  He is an amazing example not only of good sportsmanship, but of being a good human being.  I do not think that there is anything that Scotty couldn’t do if he put his mind to it.

Godspeed, Scotty, and safe travel overseas.  I can only hope that Greece realizes the treasure they are getting.

Persistance Pays Off for Scotty Hopson

by K. Kozla

Scotty Hopson, a Junior out of Tennessee, may not have been picked up at the NBA Draft, but he did not give up. He continued to practice, he continued to dream and he grew hungrier. That was when fate stepped in.

The NBA lock out happened and there is no clear end in site. In fact, there may be no season this year at all, not in America at least. That does not stop the sport and it does not stop the players from all over the world. The only thing it does stop is anyone who has a contract in the NBA from playing. That left Scotty available when Greece came knocking. He was picked up by Kolossos Rhodes in Greece and we are all wishing him God Speed in his new adventures!

Basketball Clinic August 2011



by K. Kozla

We are proud to announce that there is going to be a Skills Academy Basketball Camp taking place in Asbury Park, NJ.  We are going to encourage children to chase their dreams  because with hard work and dedication sometimes dreams do come true.

Skills Academy Basketball Camp 2011Godspeed to the coaches, the players and the dreamers.


2012 Beginnings and Endings

by K. Kozla

The NFL Fall Season is getting ready to swing into full gear; the players have been practicing and the fans riling up.  The grass is being trimmed, the yard lines laid down and if we listen hard enough we can almost hear the roar as the team charges from the locker room and is announced onto the field. 

Anticipation is electric in the air… for some at least.

Another field of battle is eerily quiet, another set of locker rooms sit empty.  No one is preparing the court for titans to compete to cries of support that erupt from fans.  Parties have been unable to come together and the clock continues to count down to a year without the NBA.  Each tick passing without agreement is one towards an end game; one where the season might be canceled entirely. 

A bad dream is turning into a harsh reality for far too many people.  No jobs for concession workers, no jobs for ticket takers, no jobs for the people who tell you where to park or clean up after a team tastes sweet victory or the bitter defeat.   No jobs for the coaches, the players, the representatives and more.  The draft picks who clawed their way up will not reach the big time yet.  In a time when the economy needs every little bit it can get it appears the unemployment numbers will be going up.  Will the players look to other countries to continue their love of the game or can some miracle still occur?

Me?  Well, I’m not giving up hope yet.  If the politicians in D.C. could push to the wire to make the jump shot to raise the debt ceiling.  Well, then maybe the Players’ Association and the Teams can find a way to make a play at the buzzer and come to an agreement too. 

 Godspeed to those playing in the 2012 NFL Season and to the 2012 NBA year.

One lockout down, one to go

by K. Kozla
So it has come to the inevitable end, the decision makers have managed to forge an agreement that all parties agreed to and now only time will tell if it is what was wanted… no needed for the good of the players, the managers, all involved and for the game itself. 
The training camps will start, the games will begin and the season will not be cut short.  Trades are being picked up again and fans have something to cheer about.  That isn’t where it ends.
The big story is coming out of New York where the Jets are actually stepping up and setting things right.  Many people in many organizations had been forced to take pay cuts and furloughs while others were laid off entirely. This hurt a lot of people in an already tough economy where individuals are living paycheck to paycheck.  So Gang Green decided to pay the employees for the wages lost during the lock out.  They are setting right what had been done now that the company knows the revenue will be there.  Now that they know the decisions made to preserve the organization were not needed.  Will other teams follow instead of taking the money and pocketing it or allocating it to something else?  No one knows and only time will tell. 
Godspeed to the teams and their managers, do the right things.

Lockout Changes

by K. Kozla

As the NBA lock out stands strong forcing players to scramble for new options there is light in the NFL world.  It appears that the NFL lock out may be coming to an end and that is a not only good for the Players and the Teams, but it is good news for the fans and all of the people whose work and financial lives revolve around the people doing what they do best.

The end to the NFL lockout could not come soon enough, the players need to start their preseason preparations and then the games might be able to start on time for a full season.  The fact that talks are working towards the right place gives hope for not only the NFL, but it brings hope to the NBA as well.  It shows that people working together for a common good and a common interest can make changes and come to agreements that will benefit everyone.

That is the lesson that everyone could and should be taking from this.  We do not need to destroy the other side, we need to find a way to come to an agreement that raises both sides up.  That way everyone succeeds and brings a cohesiveness that had not been there before creating a path for the future.

Godspeed to all the people moving to find a solution to the problem.

Lockout looming on the horizon

by K. Kozla
Players, coaches and fans alike are staring at the clock and even though it is not a shot clock or a period timer this one might be the most important clock of them all: the count down clock that clicks closer and closer to the imminent threat of Lockout.  The owners and players union met this afternoon, but no decision has been reached as of yet so all eyes are falling onto the Commissioner to see what he does when the clock strikes 12.
This is not something the players or the owners want.  For the players they will not have pay checks coming in.  They will not have their medical benefits.  Training facilities will be closed. Owners won’t have their teams after one of the most watched seasons in the sport’s history.  On top of it all it will bring all talks to a screeching halt.
This will hurt the players and their families and it will also hurt the coaches, but we have to remember the unspoken casualties that also will be affected.  In this troubled economy there is a silent party that will have their hours cut, if not completely unemployed, if this is not fixed and fast: all of the people who work at the stadiums where the teams played.  If the games are not going on and the buildings are not in use no one needs people to watch in the parking, or security in the games, no referees, no vendors, no ticket counters, no mascots, no cleaning crews, no cooks.  They are the people who do thankless jobs to support their families from paycheck to paycheck while the stars perform for owners of teams and they too will be hurt if this is not fixed.  Hopefully it will not come to that, but it seems unlikely that there will be any other out come.
I wish Godspeed to the ones in control, may they remember each and every person it touches.

Scotty Hopson

by K. Kozla

It has been said that it takes a big man to admit their mistakes.  That when you have challenges laid out before you it is then when you show the world exactly what you are made of and for Scotty Hopson now is that time.

If you have not already read the article by Mike Griffith I suggest you take the time to stop and do so because you will get the time to stop and realize that this is a young man who was faced with adversity, but is not about to give up.

At a time when many others would just throw in the towel, pack it up and simply go home to tend his wounds Scotty is not ready to do that.  The NBA, while watching fears of a potential lockout and coming from the great dance of the draft, is still moving forward.  The teams are still wheeling and dealing and looking at getting contracts for trades and new players in place and now is the time to be capitalizing on that.

Now is not the time for giving up.

Now is not the time to throw in the towel.

Now is the time to show us what you are made of.

Godspeed Scotty.

Scotty Hopson All Rights Reserved

Collective Bargaining & What it Means to You

by K. Kozla

A lot of talk has been going on about Collective Bargaining in sports (both Basketball and Football) and this is something that directly effects the current players, the players looking at getting into the games, the teams and more.  Let’s take a moment to stop and look at exactly what this is.

Investopedia defines corporate bargaining as:

The process of negotiating the terms of employment between an employer and a group of workers. The terms of employment are likely to include items such as conditions of employment, working conditions and other workplace rules, base pay, overtime pay, work hours, shift length, work holidays, sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits and health care benefits.

But what does that really mean?  It means that one group of people (in this case the player associations for their respective sport) are working as a team to negotiate things for their contracts with another group of people (in this case the NBA or NFL depending on the sport we’re talking about).  Both sides work to come to an agreement that protects the players and the overall sport and without this agreement you get a lock out like the NFL is currently going through.

The NBA could be thrust into that upheaval soon as the Collective Bargaining Agreement (which is sometimes referred to as the CBA) expires 6/30/2011 and if the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) do not come to an agreement there will be a lockout.

Merriam Webster online defines a lockout as:

the withholding of employment by an employer and the whole or partial closing of the business establishment in order to gain concessions from or resist demands of employees

So because the NFL and the NFL Players Association could not come up with a new agreement before the old agreement lapsed there was a lock out and players cannot work at their locations or work as an official team to prepare for the upcoming season.  IF the NBA and the NBPA do not come up with an agreement in the next few days they will be thrust into the exact same situation.  This not only puts the players at risk of losing that important time to get their bodies back to the place it needs to be to play safely at their most optimal condition and cohesively as a team in pre-season.

Both sides of the argument uphold that they are doing this for the good of the sport, but only time will tell if the decisions made by those in the powers that be will actually be so.  Godspeed to the decision makers and those that it impacts on now and in the future.