When current National Basketball League of Canada commissioner David Magley was a young high school student at La Salle in Indiana, he had a drive to be a great basketball player. That drive made him Indiana’s ‘Mr. Basketball’ in 1978.
When his mother passed away during those tender young years, his drive to succeed at the game took him to a successful four years of college ball at Kansas.
He would eventually ‘drive to the hoop’ at the pro level for a few years with Cleveland in the early 80s, and begin coaching the hoops game at a Christian high school in Florida and for the Brampton A’s of the NBL Canada before taking over the league’s top command post a couple years ago.
And although his passion for the game and his passion to make a positive impact on young lives hasn’t diminished, Magley’s drive, recently, has focused literally on his driving.
Last year, he says, he logged about 100,000 miles in his travels to and from NBL Canada games across southern Ontario, out east to the teams in the Atlantic division, and through the United States in the off-season to help build the league through the many combines and tryouts.
In fact, Magley awoke in Windsor this morning around 4:30 to drive to Brampton and attend the first Heroes Camp Canada event of 2017, a camp he helped create three years ago. He will then drive to London to watch the Lightning play the KW Titans at Budweiser Gardens, then drive back to Brampton post game for a church event on Sunday.
All that driving is not for himself, though, as he believes there is a higher calling and purpose to what he does, and where he drives, day in and day out.
“I feel like I’m on assignment,” Magley told me as young Heroes Camp boys and girls scrimmaged in the Bramalea Christian Fellowship church gymnasium Saturday morning.
“When I was the coach of the (the former Brampton) A’s I was on assignment to touch those young lives, and the platform I was given to make a difference in people’s lives was basketball. I’ve realized we have a finite amount of time, and I don’t want to waste my energy and not leave something positive behind.
“The only thing I could leave behind is a legacy, and this legacy has to be impacting lives for the better. So if I can bring people some good news, some positive energy and different ways to look at things – not holding onto all the bitterness – then that’s the important thing to do.”
The Heroes Camp Magley started in Brampton is a Canadian offshoot of the Heroes Camp his big brother Pat started in South Bend, Indiana, and which is now celebrating it’s 30th year of helping make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls in the heart of basketball country in the US.
“I have the same mission here of trying to bring light to a dark world, but my brother’s burden in South Bend is the large number of inner city youth that don’t have fathers active in their lives. So my brother’s tag line is Heroes Camp – Fathering The Fatherless.
“There’s a real recognition that there are young men who have never properly interacted with a man, so when you grow up without that, what is your self-image? What my brother is trying to do is give that fatherly figure to them, tell them how much they are loved, tell them how important they are and how much he believes in them.
“I don’t have that same issue here at our Heroes Camp – these kids are often brought by two-parent families with very active fathers but there is still a need in Canada as there is everywhere in the world, to have purpose and perspective.”
The Heroes Camp is free to all who want to participate. Today, about 60 kids of different age groups participated in three two-hour sessions of basketball with 45 minutes of drills and teaching and 45 minutes of playing the game.
Magley then gets the kids to gather round and speaks to them about values and positivity and doing the right things with the help of Bible passages.
As Magley says, he is trying to earn the right to speak into their lives by spending time with them.
“It’s about building a relationship with the people,” he said. “I wish I could be more involved in the Heroes Camp here in Canada because it’s important that we don’t lose the flavor of what my brother brings to his camp in the US. My brother’s ministry is 30 years old, and the facilities have grown over those years. He now has three full courts, a new restaurant that can seat a couple hundred kids at one time, a recording studio, it has a food and clothing bank, it has a barber shop — and the whole function of that is Christ had always ministered to the physical needs before he met the spiritual needs. So what my brother does is he uses all of these tools to build a relationship with the young people.
He knows everyone by their name and for some of those young kids all they have is their name.
“So when you can give them a hot meal and some new clothes and provide a loving temperament you can help change lives.”
“If I’ve touched someone’s life and made them better and then they go out and make someone’s life better, then we all win by that.”