NBA Insider: Mbah a Moute changing lives

  • Updated: March 22, 2014 - 9:24 PM

Inspired at a camp at age 16, Luc Mbah a Moute seeks to help players back home.

hide

Luc Mbah a Moute has done a dozen or more interviews with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and others on his relationship with Kansas star Joel Embiid.

Photo: Matt York • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

While whiling away the hours in his new cold and foreign home recently, Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad came upon an old movie filmed before he was born, one he hadn’t seen for quite some time.

Later, he innocently asked teammate Luc Mbah a Moute if he leads the same kind of life back home in Africa as the main character in “Coming to America.”

“I wouldn’t be here if I had it like that,” Mbah a Moute replied.

Like that, as depicted in the 1988 film starring Eddie Murphy, is a world where an African prince is awakened by a string orchestra every morning, where gorgeous women bathe and dress him and scatter rose petals in his path wherever he goes in a country whose money bears his likeness.

Life apparently was different for Mbah a Moute, a prince in a Cameroonian village because he is the son of an elected village chief. He grew up in what he once called regular middle class, a ceremonial family member respected in his village along with his seven other siblings because of his father’s status. He came to America as a teenager pursuing an education and basketball and ultimately achieved a better way of life following other Africans such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo, who led the way to the NBA ahead of him.

Now he is giving back by sponsoring a three-day basketball camp back home every summer for the past four years that invites the country’s top 50 teenage prospects, five of whom now are playing Division I college ball in the United States. Another plays at an American high school.

Most famous of that group: Kansas freshman Joel Embiid, a possible No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft who was but a raw, fleet and gangly 7-footer with gifted feet from playing soccer all his life when he participated in Mbah a Moute’s camp in July 2011.

“I didn’t have anything like that when I was young, so I just felt like it’d be cool for kids to have something like that,” Mbah a Moute said, explaining his camp’s genesis. “I just wanted to do a camp to help the kids down there. There was not anything like that being done, so I just felt like I had to do it.”

Mbah a Moute was invited to the NBA’s first African Basketball Without Borders camp back in 2003, when he was 16 even though he was just learning the game.

Back then, the NBA was this faraway place — the closest he got to it was waking at 3 a.m. to watch games on television — that became much more real when he met Mutombo there that year.

His play in that camp helped trigger a journey that sent him to a Florida prep school — the same one in which he later helped place Embiid — and then UCLA on scholarship before Milwaukee chose him in the 2008 draft’s second round.

“It was important, just being around NBA coaches and being around the NBA,” he said. “The life-changing factor for me was that, within two years of starting to play, I was one of the top players in Africa. That’s what made me want to keep playing and see how far I could go with it.”

He went all the way to the NBA and a pro career, a path he hopes he can help other young men in his country follow. Embiid — out for at least the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament because of a back stress fracture — is foremost among the list of developing players Mbah a Moute has helped bring to such American colleges as Clemson, Rutgers, Coastal Carolina and California-Berkeley.

“It’s very encouraging,” he said. “In four years, if you can have that kind of impact on kids — not just bringing them here, but making a difference and giving them hope — it shows a lot about what can be done.”

NBA short takes

Start spreading the news

Phil Jackson did what he always does — spin a few tales — when the guy who has won 11 NBA titles as a coach was introduced as the New York Knicks’ president of basketball operations presumably for the next five years at $12 million per season.

He told a story about when he was drafted by the Knicks in 1967 and boss Red Holzman and his wife picked Jackson up at JFK airport.

Jackson rolled into town while riding shotgun in Holzman’s convertible with Red’s wife, Selma, in the backseat. Their drive back into the city was disrupted when someone on an overpass threw a rock that cracked the car’s windshield.

Jackson said Holzman looked up and told him New York City isn’t the easiest place in the world to live but added, “But if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

Those words, of course, echo the now-famous song written a decade later for the film “New York, New York” and recorded after that by Frank Sinatra.

“That is where the phrase started, I swear,” Jackson said at his introductory news conference. “So we are going to make it here.”

That’s Professor Kahn to you

Ever wonder what happened to former Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn?

Well, for one thing, he’s teaching a weekend class next month at alma mater New York University on the art of negotiating the big deal in sports, entertainment and real estate. Insert your own line here.

All you need is three days of your life and $750.

The Wolves’ Week Ahead

Sunday: 2:30 p.m. vs. Phoenix (no local TV)

Monday: 7 p.m. at Memphis (FSN)

Wednesday: 7 p.m. vs. Atlanta (FSN Plus)

Friday: 7 p.m. vs. L.A. Lakers (FSN)

Player to watch:

Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix

Wolves didn’t see the other half of Phoenix’s dynamic all-point guard backcourt the first two times they played because of Bledsoe’s injury, but barring something unforeseen, they will this time around.

Voices

“When I saw him hanging on rim, I was like, ‘Is that J.J.?’”

Ricky Rubio on teammate J.J. Barea’s basket interference call after he tried a tip-dunk Wednesday at Dallas.

  • related content

  • NBA notes

    Saturday March 22, 2014

    Start spreading the newsPhil Jackson did what he always does — spin a few tales — when the guy who...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City 4 FINAL
San Francisco 11
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Buffalo 2 FINAL
San Jose 1
Boston 4 FINAL
Toronto 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
Montreal 3
New Jersey 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Dallas 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 7
Detroit 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Chicago 2 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
Nashville 0
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Minnesota 7
Florida 1 FINAL(OT)
Arizona 2
Washington 3 3rd Prd 15:47
Calgary 1
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 21 FINAL
Rice 41
UAB 17 FINAL
Arkansas 45
Rutgers 24 FINAL
(16) Nebraska 42
Maryland 7 FINAL
Wisconsin 52
Texas 0 FINAL
(11) Kansas State 23
Minnesota 24 FINAL
Illinois 28
Memphis 48 FINAL
SMU 10
North Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia 27
San Jose St 31 FINAL
Navy 41
Northern Ill 28 FINAL
Eastern Mich 17
(25) UCLA 40 FINAL
Colorado 37
Akron 21 FINAL
Ball State 35
Massachusetts 35 FINAL
Toledo 42
Ohio U 21 FINAL
Western Mich 42
Ga Southern 69 FINAL
Georgia State 31
Kent State 3 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 10
Oregon State 14 FINAL
Stanford 38
Fla Atlantic 16 FINAL
(23) Marshall 35
Louisiana Tech 31 FINAL
Southern Miss 20
(1) Miss State 45 FINAL
Kentucky 31
Georgia Tech 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 28
(22) West Virginia 34 FINAL
Oklahoma State 10
Texas Tech 27 FINAL
(10) TCU 82
Michigan 11 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 35
Boston College 23 FINAL
Wake Forest 17
Central Mich 20 FINAL
Buffalo 14
Vanderbilt 14 FINAL
Missouri 24
Old Dominion 51 FINAL
Western Ky 66
UNLV 20 FINAL
Utah State 34
Temple 14 FINAL
UCF 34
(15) Arizona 59 FINAL
Washington St 37
Texas-El Paso 34 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 0
Wyoming 31 FINAL
Colorado State 45
Syracuse 6 FINAL
(21) Clemson 16
Texas State 22 FINAL
ULM 18
(3) Ole Miss 7 FINAL
(24) LSU 10
(4) Alabama 34 FINAL
Tennessee 20
So Carolina 35 FINAL
(5) Auburn 42
(13) Ohio State 31 FINAL
Penn State 24
(20) USC 14 3rd Qtr 12:12
(19) Utah 10
(14) Arizona State 7 2nd Qtr 3:23
Washington 0
Nevada 0 1st Qtr 15:00
Hawaii 0
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(18) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Texas State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico St
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
(20) USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(5) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(1) Miss State
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(6) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(7) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(15) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(19) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(14) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Seattle 2
D.C. 1 FINAL
Montreal 1
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
New England 1
Portland 2 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Colorado 0 2nd Half 20:00
Vancouver FC 1
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 24 FINAL
Toronto 26
Brt Columbia 28 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close