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.

Here’s more from Forbes:

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.

Comments (9)

  1. Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Are you purposedly trying to destroy your basketball career? Every sports team has “behind the scenes” issues. Your statistics for this tournament, that are online at Fiba Americas show that you played less than was expected for an NBA player for most of this tournament (Game against Canada is the only exception). Do you care more about playing politics than basketball? The Panama team will not likely call you again. And they have access to excellent international basketball tournaments. The NBA is in a lockout. Who is going to hire you? You are creating the reputation for yourself as a TROUBLEMAKER in international basketball circles.

  3. What the hell are you talking about Mario, with this whole “every team has behind the scenes issues” crap? You kidding me? When was the last time you heard about “behind the scenes issues” where the president of a country wouldn’t even acknowledge his own sports team? When was the last time you heard about professional teams having to play on 9-foot baskets, teams that didn’t have trainers and teams that had their airline tickets pre-booked because their government didn’t feel they’d make it past the second round of the tournament? Oh I’m sorry, Forbes just should have shut his mouth and played, and when a prestigious publications like SLAM comes along and ask him to keep a diary (do you know what a diary is? being candid is an ESSENTIAL part of keeping one, FYI) he should just brush everything under the rug and lie about his whole experience. And for the record, Forbes has played the most minutes on Team Panama throughout the entire tournament, is currently the 4th leading scorer in the entire tournament (above Ginobili) and dropped a tournament-high 39 points against Canada. Needless to say, I think he’s deserved the right to speak up about any issue he wants, including the government.

  4. mario, can you read? reading comprehension? try it once more…

    and, in addition, you a lie (“Your statistics for this tournament, that are online at Fiba Americas show that you played less than was expected for an NBA player for most of this tournament”)

  5. Superb as always Holly.

    9-foot baskets? Sounds like dunks all round.
    But seriously, Forbes speaking out in the way he’s done against a sub par organisation, political or other wise takes class and courage, its not something to be taken lightly.

  6. Mario, your entitled to your opinion. But you are so wrong to say that about Forbes. A team cannot enter an international tournment with 1 coach and no trainers. 9 foot nets? are you serious? Mario, grow up.

    I feel it for these guys.

  7. I didn’t know that members of the Panamanian government kept tabs on the Jones, Mario. Good to know.

  8. Hate to be a downer, but with that said about the conditions of the Panama players, we STILL lost!? Wow. That makes me ever sadder…..

    Still, shitty buzz for Panama.

  9. Mario is not smart

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