No Hershey Centre Kisses

There were handshakes after the game following the Brampton A’s 110-99 win against the Mississauga Power in National Basketball League of Canada action tonight at The Hershey Centre.
But chocolates and hand-made Valentines cards? Nope. There’s no time for sentimentality from either squad, even though both teams get a ‘second date’ tomorrow in a back-to-back Peel Region rematch at the Brampton’s home Powerade Centre court.
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Once again, Brampton dominated the court throughout the game, with six players scoring in double digits and Bryson Johnson coming up one point short to make that seven players.
Brampton’s Flenard Whitfield, below, made the most of one of his two field goals with a monster slam in the second half.
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And it was all Brampton in the second half.
The A’s took their nine point halftime lead and blasted out of the gates taking a commanding 26 point lead at one point in the third quarter.
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“We’re getting better at executing some sets that we haven’t done before and we’re just starting to figure some stuff out,” said Brampton Head Coach and GM David Magley following the game.
Some of the other stuff the A’s figured out tonight was how to keep their lead intact going into the late minutes of the fourth quarter.
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“We haven’t been good at closing deals,” said Magley. “We’ve gotten big leads and we’ve let people back by turning it over. And the key stat (tonight) was we had 29 assists compared to eight turnovers. That’s really good. If we can do that every night we’re going to beat a lot of teams.”
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The two squads tipoff again tomorrow at 2 p.m. and Coach Magley is hoping to get four points out of the weekend of basketball.
“Our big goal was to get the first one, because it’s one game at a time for us,” he said. “We have to have a short memory and forget about what the season standings look like. We just needed to get this game and get some rest and then we need to get it done tomorrow.”

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Marshawn Hampton: For The Love of Basketball – Episode 2: A Heavy Heart

This is the second installment of Marshawn Hampton’s diary from China.
I’m giving this young American basketball player, who is playing professional roundball in Beijing, a chance to connect to his friends and family through this blog.
This past month has been a tough one for Marshawn as a number of relatives at home in the US suffered untimely deaths.
Read on and see how Marshawn is dealing with his family issues and everything that’s going on in Beijing!
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A NEW YEAR
January 1, 2015

I want to start off by saying Happy New Year from my family to you and yours. New Year’s is another holiday that I’m ALWAYS home for but we all know my circumstance: I have a job to do. I have to remind myself that my family can’t eat excuses nor can excuses pay the bills.

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Last night I went out to the famous area of Beijing called Sanlitun. This is the Miami of Beijing! I went to a club called True Colors where they did a whole show and countdown in Chinese. I was so blown away by it all. As the night came to an end my teammates and I caught a cab. Now, if you remember there are two types of taxis here: the normal yellow taxi and the black taxi. The black taxies are the ones with the red light in them which the locals tell foreigners to stay away from because they hustle you out your money by over charging you. So of course we took a black cab that pretended he knew where we were trying to go them we asked for our money back which was $100 rmb. He then kept driving getting us more lost then he pulled over to ask another black cab driver and the other driver said he would take us so we piled out and changed cars. As we arrived at our destination we hopped out and all of a sudden the driver started demanding money even though we were under the impression that our previous cab driver gave him our money. Moral of the story: we paid $200rmb! I’m home now and it’s 7am, so yes it was a long night and I have practice at 7:30pm.
Man what a night!

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January 2, 2015
While at practice today I had to meet with the team’s General Manager and a few of the investors and was asked what I believe my role is as a point guard. I responded “I’m point guard by position but I’m a basketball player”. I NEVER put my self in a position category simply because I do whatever the team needs: rebounds, take charges, get 50/50 balls – whatever is needed to secure that win. I think they were impressed with my answer because the follow up question was “Good answer. Now what do you think makes you different than any other candidate we had for the pg position?”
I told them I never worry about another player at the same position. I pride myself on not being the stereotypical American import that goes into a job looking to score and get their stats up. I play to WIN and that’s it NOTHING MORE. I’m a firm believer in the idea that winners are remembered. I also want to always leave my stamp on a team after my departure and that’s the drive to win and lay it all on the line.
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I don’t believe in the phrase “it’s a long season”. My theory is “every game is a one game season” meaning it can all determine your team’s success by each game because every game is different. I’m very passionate about this game and I’m also a student of the game as well. They asked me how I feel about the coach and the players relationship and how important it is for a successful season. I responded that we have to all express our opinions, but no one person is bigger than the team. They followed up and asked about my relationship with the coach and how it affects a season. I paused for a second and said the pg and the coach are the leaders: the coach comes up with the schemes and as the pg my job is to make sure those things are executed in order to win games.
I finished up by saying I’m the Floor General and I need to be vocal and lead by example with my actions.They all smiled and began speaking in Chinese then stood up hugged me and kissed me on the cheek which was weird but I took it as progress because nothing for me has been easy. They told me “ok ok ok you practice now”. I smiled and said 谢谢, which means thank you and went back to practice with a lot on my mind.

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I got home, stretched out showered, and reflected on all I have accomplished because today was the first time I met with a GM or investors and took questions into deep thought. I’m getting older and I’m realizing what it takes to have a long, healthy career. Every year there’s a lot of college graduates that come out of college basketball looking for the same opportunities as vets. I was having a talk with a good friend (well, a brother from another mother) of mine Brandon or twin and we were discussing how long the grind can be and how many people say they can help you but it’s the person that you least expect that will get things done for you. So be looking out for his news. I’m happy for him because we’ve been in the gym since we were 14 and 15 years old. Well I gotta lay it down I’m dead tired! I’m gone like yesterday!

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Bad News
Today I received a text from my baby sister that told me my grandfather was unresponsive. It was early so I did not understand what she meant. She told me my grandmother found him in the bathroom unable to talk. My heart stopped. For the first time, the man that all my cousins and siblings looked at as Superman got sick and for me that was hard to deal, especially while while I’m here in Beijing. My grandfather was not the man that put the basketball in my hand but he is the man who showed me what being tough was all about. He told me about putting on my “gorilla suit” which was a suit that nobody wanted to deal with symbolizing the strength and the will of a gorilla. My grandfather wasn’t the traditional one but he is our grandfather. He liked rap music, Jordan sneakers, and supporting his grandkids at whatever they do. Honestly, my grandpa Gene is a soldier. My mom video-called me while she was over at my grandparents’ house not 24 hours before and my grandpa was up and as busy as he always is, screaming at his dogs or just keeping busy. I got to speak with him and I told him he needs to sit down somewhere but in Grandpa Gene fashion he said “I’m good baby, just gotta watch my diet”. He then started to talk trash and crack jokes like he always did.
This is by far the toughest time being away because a lot has changed in my family in the past month or so. For my family reading this from Stoney, Jason, to Tae I love you guys no matter what and my life wouldn’t be the same without you guys. I know we don’t speak as much as we use to but I understand life evolves and people bring on new responsibilities. I just want you guys to know that you mean a lot to me. As for the rest of my family Richmond’s, Greenwood’s, and Hampton’s I love y’all too.
Speaking of family I would like to introduce my right hand man Michael Johnson. Big Mike is what we call him because he 6’8″. Mike is a Chicago product to the BONE! West side Chicago born and raised lol. He showed me parts of Chicago I never knew existed not knowing I was in war zones or different gang lands but I established relationships with people just hanging around him. While over the course of my career we’ve been good friends and laugh and talk trash to one another 24/7. We even play 1 on 1 where the size difference is crazy: I’m 5’11” he 6’8″. Although it’s a David vs Goliath story, I have the most wins up until this point. Today we were face timing talking about the long summer we had in our off season where we had to rehab an injury he had and how he is having a real productive senior year at Chicago State University. He is making his jump into his professional career lol the bigs gonna be mad at this but look he 6’8″ – getting a job will be easy for him after college. Well you know me it’s time to go night night! Lol

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Registration Issues
January 9, 2015
Today was a very interesting day. It started with my translator calling me telling me it’s urgent that I get registered at the police station because you normally get 24 hours to report to the local police station in the area where you will be housed but I had been there 2 weeks. So when we arrived to the local police station they looked at me through the window and began to smile and point. Once inside I shook hands and had a few photos taken and then my translator Timmy began to talk to the officers in charge in Chinese. The pitch in their voices began to rise and one of the officers grabbed me but not aggressively. I asked Timmy what was going on. He told me I had to pay a $3000 fine or be placed under arrest. I got pissed immediately and told him to tell the police I needed to speak to the chief. He came out and I told him I had no address because I was living in a hotel for two weeks. He told the police to unhand me and for me to give the officer at the desk my passport to get registered then get approved for my accommodation registration form. He smiled and said sorry for the misunderstanding but turned to Timmy to blame him and told him it was his first and last warning.
When we were leaving the chief called me by name and asked for a photo and an autograph for his grandson. The ride home was complete silence because I was upset that I almost went to jail in a foreign country sheesh!
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Number Zero
Got home and took a nap then was quickly awakened to hear from my cousin Stoney and Jason whom I am close to to do some catching up due to our lack of communication when I played in Australia. It’s always good to catch with those guys. Then it was off to practice where it was yet another tough one and I also learned the orange jerseys were preseason uniforms. We get to keep them then the staff asked if we were all satisfied with our numbers. I said I wanted number zero. The gym got quiet then someone asked why zero? I lifted my head up and wiped the sweat off my face with my shirt and said because during my whole life NO ONE, besides my family, wanted to give me an equal chance or believed in me or my skills. Also last season in Australia I didn’t win a championship but was so close so I came back home with nothing. I want that number to be a constant reminder of those things because they made the basketball player you see today. The funny thing was everyone nodded their head in agreement as if they all wanted zero now lol. When I got home I checked my email, social networks and so fourth as I always do and I got an email from a college coach looking for players so I immediately thought about my young boys Matty Monckton and Aiden Potter from Australia so I’m following up to give these kids an opportunity to excel beyond their country. So keep reading to see what happens for the young guns from Australia.

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Heartache and Homesick
So a lot has happened in the past few days. The devil has been extremely busy. My uncle Leroy passed away which is my grandmother’s brother despite being my second uncle. We had a good relationship; he was a big fan of basketball and two of his sons have played at a high level as well as his daughter. So whenever I saw him that’s what we talked about. This is a major blow to my family so again everyone is getting together to celebrate my uncle’s life and I’m here in China. Not even 45 minutes had gone by since I received the video call and glide message from mom and sister Bae Bae about my uncle when my phone rang again with more bad news. My childhood friend Jr. who was always around since I can remember had died as well. As Ashley held the phone to inform me that he had died I was in total disbelief. After the conversation had ended I sat at my desk and my mind took off running a marathon, before I knew it, it was 7am and I had shoot around before the game.

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As soon as we finished I returned home and tried to get some rest but 5 p.m. came quickly and it was time to head to the arena. Could you imagine having terrible news and no sleep and still have to play a very strenuous basketball game? Neither could I.
The final buzzer went off and we lost by 7 and my performance wasn’t a stellar one. I had 13 points and 3 assists and 3 turnovers. I did not and will not make any excuses, though. I woke up 8am the next 2-3 day and got back to my foundation hitting the weights and getting up extra shots. I can honestly say this is definitely been a character builder and also a chance for me to get closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because he is the only person that can get me through this tough time. As always I say my prayer to bless all the readers and bless my family, friends, and loved ones. Tomorrow I have an off day so I am going to check out the Great Wall of China.

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The Greatest of Walls
Today has been an experience like no other to come from where I’m from to be a part of one of the wonders of the world. I can remember being in history class talking about the Mongolians and the Hans trying to take over China and this wall stopped them. The views are amazing and breath taking. I sit here in pure amazement: to come from where I come from and be here to see this piece of history is one for the record books for not only me but the people who see the photos on Facebook. They may never get the opportunity to visit this historical landmark. Afterwards I was invited by the team owner to accompany him to the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) China’s top league All Star game where I saw a few familiar faces that I have competed against like Will Bynum and a friend of mine college teammate Lester Hudson. It was a great time and also motivational to see where I want to be in my own career. Sometimes watching things with a different view lights a new fire within you. This game has shown me where I need to be none the less.
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My heart is extremely heavy today as my uncle Marcus died. With all the deaths I have dealt with since I have been away from family none are bigger than the other but this one not only affected me but my father as well because it’s his brother who passed away. My uncle was a huge fan of me and the game of basketball. He and my uncle Darryl are the reason I’m a big fan of the air Jordan 13 “He Got Game” shoes. They were the first people I saw who had them. Man it’s always been stated to never question God’s works and I won’t, but I will miss you uncle Butch. Thanks for all the rides to church as a shorty and the advice that will always be with me. All these deaths I also missed the celebration of life and wished my young king Keishawn a happy birthday. He is becoming his own young man which is awesome.
With all the chaos we had a 3 game series three days straight where we won all three each game all I could think about was my absence from the funerals and Keishawn’s birthday. Then reality hit me and I realized all things that don’t kill you only makes you stronger and when your faith is being tested you have to raise your faith. Well I’m going to eat this street food (food that was prepared on the street by a man who cooks burning wood and coal to prepare chicken and various other food) and go to sleep.
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#Rellyworld miss you boy!

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭13‬ KJV)

Til next month be safe and pray for those all over the world even the enemies. Amen!