by guestblogger, Nono Delid who blogs at Steel Connect
It’s not too often that you get to see in the flesh the NBA stars. Kobe Bryant came for a Nike event at Bonifacio High Street and went without us even seeing his shadow. When All Star Agent Zero, a.k.a. Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards came to Adidas in Powerplant Mall in Rockwell two summers ago, we had to carry our kids in our arms for a good one hour just for them to get a glimpse of him; all we saw were all heads of the other fans wanting and pushing in front.
So, Saturday, April 17 was a great day for us when we got our invitation to be among the select few who will meet and greet BJ Armstrong at Marriott Hotel Manila‘s Velocity Bar. Thanks to Michelle Garcia, Marketing Communications Manager of Marriott Hotel Manila for the invite!
BJ Armstrong (BJ stands for Benjamin Jr.), was a one time All Star guard (1994) who played along with the great Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the great Chicago Bulls during their first magnificent 3-peat run as NBA champions from 1991-94. Playing out of University of Iowa, BJ Armstrong was Chicago’s 1st round draft pick and 18th overall during the 1989 NBA draft. Standing at 6’2″ and playing point guard, he was directing the plays of the Bulls frontline, at the same time, dishing out treys in clutch plays. In fact, during the 1992-93 season, he was the three point king. After Chicago, he played for Golden State, Toronto, Orlando and finally went back to Chicago. His last NBA game was a memorable one, as he revealed in an earlier interview with sports analyst/columnist Quinito Henson. As a Bull once again, they played a road game in Detroit (Michigan), his home city. At present, BJ, as an agent, handles several players, including Derrick Rose, Chicago’s superstar and 2009 NBA rookie of the year. Interestingly, some of his Chicago’s lesser known teammates played in our PBA. His contribution to basketball, especially in teaching the young kids the foundation and fundamentals of basketball brought him here in here in Manila as a special guest of NBA Asia, to promote their Jr, NBA program where kids 12-14 years old are trained under the watchful and expert handlinng of their coach, Frank Lopez.
Frank Lopez was with BJ’s party last Saturday, and as the crowd zoomed on BJ, I approached him as he was sipping his drink alone. Dressed like an NBA referre, Frank says, he has worked with the NBA for many years now. He started with the Orlando Magic organization way way back, when Shaq O’Neal and Penny Hardaway were still there. They hold playing sessions at the Jose Rizal University gym and he’s ably assisted by past PBA stars, like Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, and Elmer Cabahug.This week, they must have already chosen their top 8 players from among the pool of 40 players.
Another NBA man we met at Marriott’s Velocity Bar was a pleasant guy, whom despite his impeccable English accent and all, while conversing with the foreigner guests, we knew all along was a Filipino. His business card says Carlo Singson, the Senior Manager, Business Development and Marketing Partnerships, NBA Asia, Limited with office listed in Hong kong. Carlo was born and grew up here, studied high school in La Salle Greenhilss but finished his college degree in the US. When asked who so far is their greatest product in this Jr. NBA program, he mentioned Keifer Ravena, star of the champion Ateneo Blue Eaglets team and son of a PBA great, Bong Ravena of the Purefoods team. And oh yes, how could we miss Jama Mahlalela, the good-looking Director of Basketball Operations of NBA Asia, Limited who wooed the crowd with his dashing looks.
Back to BJ, he says he’s going back to the US in time for Game 3 of the Celtics-Bulls 1st round play-off match. When I asked his opinion on the chances of the East’s 8th seeded Bulls against the league leading top seed Cavs of King (Lebron James), he just raised a thumbs up sign. Well maybe, it as just for good luck for his beloved Bulls squad (who is a definite underdog), to prevent a 4-0 sweep by a team tipped to go all the way to the finals. But there’s one thing we both agree: it’s still going to be a Laker and Kobe’s year.
Here are photos for posterity’s sake. 😀