British basketball legend John Amaechi has refuted claims he is ‘anti British basketball’ and has said he is more than willing to open up dialogue the the National Governing Body, England Basketball, should they reach out to him.
Speaking in Manchester on NBA ambassador duties ahead of the first game in the city, the former NBA player and England Senior international said:
“It’s funny, it’s amazing that with a Twitter handle of @JohnAmaechi people find it very difficult to get in touch with me.”
“I’ve not heard from anybody, no,” he responded when asked if England Basketball or British Basketball have reached out. “I would be knocked off my feet with surprise and joy if it happened.
“Of course (I would be open to working with them), I’m not anti British basketball, I’m for kids who have talent and are willing to put in the effort having an opportunity.”
Unlike many other countries where home-grown successful athletes become figureheads and ambassadors for the sport, Amaechi has long been separated from the federation and been left to his own devices in Manchester, where he has built one of the country’s only purpose built basketball facilities and is heavily involved with the Manchester Magic, one of England’s most prominent junior clubs.
The 6’10” star has become known for being publicly critical about the state of the sport domestically and has long called for an overhaul.
“Radical, radical change, now, must happen,” he continued, when saying what he would tell the Board should he ever get the chance to sit down with them. “This tweaking around the edges is problematic.
“The bottom line is, are we really going to be satisfied with being this below expectations for another three decades? I personally think, every time I walk through the streets of Manchester, or any of our other major cities, I’m tired of seeing kids who clearly have the capability, the potential, the talent to be outstanding athletes, and yet we’re still mired in this situation where we can’t compete. If you want to change that, it has to be radical change.”
Check out the full interview on video here.