Big T talks basketball, life with youth at St. George Rec Center

KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey passes to a camper at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Former NBA star, NCAA National Champ and smooth-voiced musician Thurl Bailey taught and talked with area youth Monday evening as part of the Utah Jazz promotional tour at the St. George Recreation Center.

KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News
KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News

“There are always going to be people out there who don’t believe in you,” he told the 40 or so youth in attendance at the workshop/instructional camp. “There will always be the haters. But don’t listen to them. The people that count, the ones who love you, will believe in you. But mostly, you have to believe in yourself.”

Bailey, who is currently a broadcaster on KJZZ TV, won an NCAA national Championship in college at North Carolina State in 1983 and played professionally with the Utah Jazz, the Minnesota Timberwolves and several teams in Europe. He spent most of the 90-minute meeting talking to kids from ages 3-17 and helping them work on shooting the basketball.

Near the end of the workshop, Bailey sat the kids down and shared a little of his philosophy on life.

KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News
KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News

“Ask questions, man,” he said. “I know you have them in there. Ask questions about everything. All this technology we have, sometimes we lose ourselves in it. Look up. Look each other in the eyes. When I was playing with Karl Malone and John Stockton, we didn’t have all this. You know what we did, we looked each other in the eye and talked to each other.”

Bailey said he didn’t start playing basketball until he was 13-years-old. By then, he was 6-foot-5 and couldn’t even dribble a ball (he is 6-11 now). Known for his soft shooting touch, Bailey was a quick learner who became an NBA player less than 10 years after first picking up a basketball.

“All I knew was I really liked it when I first started playing,” he said. “Now, I’ve spent a big portion of my life playing basketball and I still love it.”

KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News
KJZZ TV personality and former NBA star Thurl Bailey speaks to youth at the Utah Jazz promotional event Monday evening at the St. George Recreation Center, St. George, Utah, Aug. 17, 2015. | Photo by Shelly Griffin, St. George News

Late in the session, one of the kids asked Bailey if he could still dunk the basketball. He told the crowd he was too old for that — he’s 54 — then proceeded to elevate for a one-handed slam, much to the delight of the audience.

Bailey, originally from Maryland, is also an accomplished musician. He adopted Utah as his home after his playing career and also converted to the LDS faith. His music revolves around inspirational religious messages. For more information, go to thurlbailey.com.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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