Laettner to host basketball camp at DHS
Christian Laettner recorded one of the most memorable moments in college basketball history with “The Shot.”
Since the end of his basketball career two years ago, Laettner has kept his talents on the hardwood.
However, this time he’s coaching.
The two-time national champion, 13-year National Basketball Association veteran and member of the 1992 Olympic gold medal men’s basketball team will host the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy camp at Dickinson High School on June 28 and 29.
“I love the game of basketball and it’s the thing I know the most, it’s the thing I’m most passionate about and it’s the thing that most comes easy to me,” Laettner said. “For me to give back to all the coaches, players, parents that have young children, it’s just a lot of fun and it’s something that I love to do. It has given me the chance to go all over the country and all over Canada to see basketball at many different levels.”
The camp is four two-hour sessions for boys and girls in fourth grade through 12th grade. The fourth- through eighth-graders will have their sessions on June 28, while the freshmen to seniors have theirs on June 29.
The fee for the camp is $45. Each session for the camp is open to the first 50 basketball players. Registration can be found at theclba.com or dickinsonbasketballcamp.com. Players must register before June 20.
Dickinson athletic director Guy Fridley said it’s pretty special to have a player of Laettner’s stature host a basketball camp.
“It’s exciting for our basketball community in Dickinson,” Fridley said. “It’s going to be a community camp. The kids are going to gain some knowledge from him. It’s just a big spark for our community.
“He’s had an extreme amount of success in the game of basketball. To allow our community to get some knowledge and skill sets that he can bring in. The kids will be excited to have him.”
Laettner’s head coach during his four years at Duke was future Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski, who has the most wins in NCAA Division I history with 983. Krzyzewski has been the head coach of the Blue Devils since 1980.
Though Laettner learned first-hand for four years with one of the most influential basketball coaches, he said his methods of teaching branches from every coach he’s ever had — including many lessons from his father.
“I was very lucky and fortunate throughout my life to have very good coaches,” Laettner said. “My first very good coach was my father, from third grade to eighth grade. He learned the game from Frank Layden (who was the head coach at Niagara University from 1968 to 1976 and the head coach of the Utah Jazz from 1981 to 1988). I was lucky to have a very good high school coach Jim Kramer out of the Nichols School in Buffalo, N.Y.
“Everyone is aware of Coach K during my four years at Duke. The combination of those coaches really helped me in my career. They were all really important in creating my coaching style, coaching philosophy and curriculum.”
During Laettner’s four years at Duke, he led the team to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992. He is the only player in NCAA history to reach the NCAA Final Four four times. He was a two-time All-American, NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 1991, ACC Player of the Year and Associated Press College Player of the Year in 1992, and two-time ACC Athlete of the Year (1991 and 1992).
“The championships that I was able to garner in my career during college, they only happened as a product of being on really good teams with really good coaches and surrounded by really good players,” Laettner said. “It doesn’t happen all by yourself. We didn’t win championship at Duke because of Christian Laettner alone. We experienced so much success at Duke because of the whole package which is Coach K, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, Alaa Abdelnaby, Thomas Hill and Danny Ferry — all those great basketball players that I was blessed and lucky enough to play with.”
After a standout career with the Blue Devils, he was the third overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 1992 draft. The two players taken before Laettner in the draft were Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning.
However, prior to entering the NBA, Laettner was one of the final players chosen to be on the 1992 Olympic men’s basketball team. The Dream Team was chock full of future NBA Hall of Famers, including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
Laettner said what set him apart from the rest of the players vying for one of the final spots was his commitment to USA Basketball. He was part of the U.S. national team that won a bronze medal during the 1990 FIBA World Championship.
“I made a huge commitment to USA Basketball right from my freshman year at Duke,” Laettner said. “I played on the Goodwill Team after my freshman year that summer and played on the world team the following summer, and then I played on the Pan-American team the following summer. By making such a commitment to USA Basketball and after my senior season, they had to make a decision. I think they went with me because of my commitment from the previous years. That just one of the greatest experiences of my life and to be on the best team ever assembled. To run up and down the court with Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, what an opportunity for a 23-year-old kid, and I loved every second of it.”
In his 13-year NBA career with six teams, he finished with 11,121 points, 5,806 rebounds and 2,224 assists. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. He was a NBA All-Star in 1997 and made the NBA Playoffs with six teams — the last of which came in 2004-05 season with the Miami Heat. He averaged a career-best 17.6 points during the 1996-97 playoffs with the Atlanta Hawks.
“I was very happy with the way that my career panned out,” Laettner said. “I wish I wouldn’t have some of the injuries I sustained. I ruptured my Achilles in 1998 and that was a devastating injury. I also had some other injuries that hurt a little bit, but besides that I’m proud of my career.”
Aside from basketball, Laettner enjoys spending time with his children.
However, every year he relives March Madness by traveling to the NCAA Final Four and, at times, the NCAA national championship.
“March always brings back very fond memories,” he said. “it’s always a big time of the year for me. My relevancy picks up a little bit in March because they are showing the Kentucky shot on TV all the time. It’s a fun time for me. It’s fun time for my children because they get to see daddy on TV. It’s a great time of the year for all basketball fans. I go to the Final Four almost every year.”