The Saratoga Sun -

'Russell'ing up some fun

Former Utah Jazz great Bryon Russell runs a clinic in Hanna for Junior Jazz participants in Hanna Thursday

 

Mike Armstrong

Bryon Russell played with the Utah Jazz on the team that was a contender for the NBA championship two years in row.

Russell is often remembered for guarding Michael Jordan as Jordan made the clutch shot in the last seconds of game six in the 1998 NBA finals. There was speculation Jordan had pushed off Russell, but the referees didn't call it.

Almost 20 years later, Russell was in the Hanna Recreation Center on Thursday to give children who played for the recently concluded Junior Jazz program a clinic that incorporated enjoyment and basketball skills.

Russell walked into the Hanna Recreation Center's basketball gym with children and parents in attendance shouting, "Ya'll ready to have some fun?"

The clinic, which had over two dozen children, broke into two teams. Russell had the teams compete against each other in several exercises.

The first exercise he had the children line up front to back on the court and pass the ball over their heads to the person behind them. Once the last person received the ball, the children then spread their legs as the ball was rolled back down to the first person.

The ball hit knees sometimes and would stop. Quickly the ball would be grabbed and sent down its path again. The losing team would find itself doing jumping jacks.

Once this exercise had been run a few times, Russell put the teams in front of the hoops at opposite ends and had a shooting contest. Again the losers found themselves doing jumping jacks.

The last activity of the workshop was called "Knock em Out," where two shooters tried to get the ball in the basket while trying to make sure the other player didn't. Last man standing was the winner.

Ironically, two of the smallest contestants were the last ones shooting.

Mike Armstrong

Russell's smiles and encouragement to the children as they shot basketballs, dribbled and passed made the participants confident. Some really good looks were given by even the smallest of tykes.

"I love kids. I love to see kids have fun," said Russell as he finished up the clinic and started autograph signing and picture taking. "And that is what they are doing. They are having fun."

Russell signed balls, pictures, posters and shirts. Then he posed for pictures with the children and families.

After the last picture was taken, Russell made his goodbye.

Attendees exclaimed their gratitude for his time at the recreation center.

"Thanks for having me," he replied, "I'm glad ya'll had a good time."

It seemed clear every child that attended the Jazz basketball clinic hosted by Russell did have a great time.

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