It was great to get back to Michael Jordan Senior Flight School after missing a year due to the fact that Michael and the camp directors decided to take last summer off because of the state of the national economy. Noticeably absent was longtime staff member Chuck Daly, who passed away last May after battling pancreatic cancer for several months. We talked about Chuck a lot, remembering how great he was and how much he loved Michael’s camp.
Though Chuck was sorely missed, some fresh new faces invigorated this summer’s coaching staff including John Thompson III and Ben Howland. And our campers brought great energy to the camp as well. We enjoyed a very spirited and highly competitive atmosphere because of the influx of new, younger participants who fell in the 35-45 age range. We also had a number of veteran guys return who have been attending for the past 5-6 years.
Possessing a winning combination of veteran experience and young talent, my Blazers team was seeded number two going into Saturday’s championship tournament. Our opening game victory against the Nuggets (coached by Bill Self and John Thompson III) allowed us to advance to the final four. In the semifinals we were matched up against the Lakers, coached by P.J. Carlesimo. It was a very hard-fought battle, but too many turnovers and missed shot opportunities eventually took their toll on our offense. The Lakers defeated the Blazers, ending our hopes of winning the Flight School Team Championship.
The Lakers moved on to the finals, where they met Doc Rivers and the Bulls in a highly competitive and physical game. The Bulls led by one point with seconds remaining, but the Lakers had the final possession. When their last shot went up there was contact on the play, but no whistle. The shot missed so the Bulls held on to win by one point and secure the team championship.
Now all we can do, coaches and campers alike, is hope that we will have the chance to come back next year and compete once again. As we prepared to leave camp, the big question on everyone’s mind was whether the Class of 2010 would be the last to graduate from Flight School. With Michael taking full control over the Charlotte Bobcats, he will no doubt have to shoulder many more responsibilities in his new ownership role. So Michael is going to have to determine whether he can still afford to give the campers the time he’s given them in the past. His hands-on involvement is what has made Flight School so successful for all these years. Knowing Michael and the way he wants the camp run, if he has to cheat the camp he’s not going to do it. Michael and his staff have to get together and decide whether they can run the camp the right way and make it available to everyone for another shot at Flight School glory.