Timberwolves coach thrills 'Peggers

SUN MEDIA STAFF

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

For J.B. Bickerstaff, teaching the game of basketball is equal to growing the game of basketball.

The assistant coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves was in town yesterday, providing a day's worth of basic roundball curriculum to a group of children in south Winnipeg. His message to the kids: Enjoy the game, but play it the right way.

"We all want to have fun in what we're doing," he said. "Sometimes we get caught up in winning and all that stuff, but what it comes down to is you want to learn how to play the right way and you want to have a good time while you're doing it."

That balance of fun and instruction wasn't lost on Jake Ritchie yesterday.

The 16-year-old College Beliveau student won a contest that brought the NBA coach, two mascots and a pair of New Jersey Nets dancers to Dakota Community Centre.

"I like watching NBA," he said after Bickerstaff ran him and 14 of his friends through a few passing drills.

"I don't play on a school team but it's fun to play basketball."

As much as Bickerstaff loves teaching the game to children, he also shares the same passion for growing the NBA brand across the world.

'Definitely a market'

The Maryland product feels our country, led by Toronto Raptors head coach Jay Triano and Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, has a chance to be the next breeding ground for NBA teams looking for talent.

"We're going to reach Canada," he said. "There's definitely a market for it here."

As for how the Winnipeg kids fared on the court, the T-Wolves coach says the next Todd MacCulloch could be out there.

"They're pretty good," he said. "I'll be honest, I thought this was a hockey town."


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