It was a tough day for basketball in Canada yesterday. There was the loss to Panama, the realization that there would be no Olympics and the head coach stepping down. It wasn’t awesome. While fans were angry and looking for answers and columnists were trying to provide them, Gary Forbes of the Denver Nuggets was speaking his truth and serving up a reminder that things could always be worse.
During the FIBA Americas, Forbes kept a diary for SLAM Magazine. In his final installment, he unloaded on some of the issues, challenges and barriers members of the Panama national team faced during the tournament. From training conditions, to coaching staff to support, it’s not a pretty picture.
I have to be honest with you guys. Team Panama is struggling on the court due to behind the scenes issues. Our team is the only team not backed by our government and probably the only team without any sponsors. Our president, who I will not name, has put the team in a lose/lose situation in my eyes. Our practice facilities are subpar, practicing on 9-foot baskets, as your regulation baskets are 10 feet. Panama has a facility, “Roberto Duran” Coliseum, which we can’t use because it is a government owned facility. There are two federations in Panama and basically we are a private club team. Crazy, huh?
Our President booked our tickets home for September 4th because he didn’t believe we’d make it to the second round. Along with that, we have one coach, no staff, no trainers, and once again no backing or support from our country. I was in a meeting before I left Panama with the Pan Deportes President who said that we don’t represent Panama when we play in these international tournaments, FIBA recognizes us but not the government. I had no clue of these conditions before I came to represent my country.
Props to Forbes for being open and honest about his experiences. I’m sure it wasn’t easy to say how he was feeling and then show up to suit up and play despite his thoughts on how the team has been handled. It’s really not a great scene. Practicing on nine-foot baskets? Not having scouting reports? Guys taping themselves in the locker room because of a lack of trainers available? That’s just not safe.
It made me sad to read this post. Playing for your country should be an amazing experience that you never forget because of the proud moments, not because of sub-par training conditions. Hopefully the candor of Forbes will lead to some changes. Regardless, he gets a high-five for honesty.