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THE YEAR OF THE YAO -- ADVANCE SCREENINGS
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San_Francisco - Friday, April 22, 2005


There and Back Again



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"I have a Dream (League)..."
A first-hand journal of the misadventures of Dream League

EPISODE I: Basketball VIPs Come Out to See Yao Movie and Support Dream League (cont.'d)

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER: LUI GIVEN COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD

After scrambling the day before with a Palace of Fine Arts vendor who needed an alcohol license signed, Twu and crew were ready to go.

The doors opened early with Young, Dream League Board member Steve Lien and his friend capturing some video, Dream Leaguer Phil Nguyen manning the raffle ticket table, Lui's wife Wendy and friends Hanson and Wendy Leong manning the ticket booth, and Lui's friend and professional photographer Patrick Yuen donating his time snapping away on his Canon EOS 20D camera.

Twu was admittedly nervous before taking the podium to introduce Dream League and the film. Decked out in a suit and tie, complete with a small replica pin of the gold NBA Finals trophy, Twu definitely was dressed for the occasion.


Wan and Twu double-teamed Lui to give him his Community Service Award.
"I always wanted to use that NBA trophy pin for something," explained Twu. "It exemplifies every event that Dream League does, be it a screening like this or a tournament. Professionalism and class to the max."

First, a surprise. Twu got Ken Wan, Dream League's 2004 Community Service Award winner, to go up to the podium and stun Lui with the 2005 Community Service Award.

Lui was totally caught off guard, so much so that he felt under-dressed in his sweatshirt and jeans. "I felt bad about that," said Twu, "but happy he was surprised to be honored in such a way. Finding out a way to get him to be dressed for the occasion was something I totally forgot about in all the planning."

Lui then introduced Jason Chan from the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services to present Twu with the Certificate of Honor for Dream League.

After that, below is a transcript of Twu's speech. It pretty much sums it up.

Can't wait for the next big Dream League event, whatever and whenever that might be. We don't know if they'll get only three weeks to plan it -- and let's hope they get more than that -- but we know it will be a great event!

"Thanks and welcome to Dream League's pre-release VIP screening of The Year of the Yao. My name is Rich Twu and I run Dream League. Some of you are wondering how the hell we got to do this and how we were able to get some of the VIPs you see sitting around you to show up. Well, we got lucky. But let me tell you who's not lucky and who's never a VIP.

Those kids that you know about, you know the ones from the projects. By the way, go two miles in any direction from here and chances are, you'll hit a project. Guess what, not all of those kids are gangsters or drug dealers. 99% of these kids simply worry about whether or not they're going to get shot as they walk home through the projects.

On behalf of Mayor Gavin Newsom, Jason Chan presented Twu with Dream League's Certificate of Honor.

And the second thing they worry about is where to find the next meal, because Mom's out doing whatever she's doing and Dad, well they don't even know their dads -- probably disappeared when the kids were babies.

But some of these kids have talent too. And I'm not talking about NBA talent. I'm talking about skills that could be valued in today's corporate world: computer skills, organizational skills, multi-tasking skills.

Now most of you and people who play basketball in our leagues are working middle class citizens. You went to a decent high school, got decent grades, and went to a decent college. Now imagine being in high school again. Can you believe how hard it would have been to get where you're at today, if the #1 thing you had to worry about was getting shot and the #2 thing you had to worry about was food? Now that's pressure.

But these kids, they're just like any other kids. They've got potential. And they're showing it right now. I've seen it. People who play in Dream League have seen it, at our tournaments and leagues which span 100-plus teams across the Bay, Las Vegas, and New York -- and on our website. That's the product of kids from the projects.

I know you all want to see the movie and I'm not going to say much about Yao Ming because in the next one and a half hours, you're going to get plenty of Yao Ming and Yao really needs no introduction.

What I will say is that as you'll see with Yao, basketball is a window -- no, it's a portal -- to different cultures and lifestyles, not just with Yao and hip-hop and China and NBA corporate, but also, as PROVEN by Dream League, with the hidden talent and potential of inner-city high school youth.

Yes, our Asian American basketball players can now be fully engaged with mentoring kids from the projects.

Thank you, Yao Ming, for reinforcing how the fact that basketball is a portal for diversity."
[POSTSCRIPT: One of the humbling endings to all of this is that two people who saw this screening eventually passed away: James Love and Willie Wong (SF Chronicle obituary). Twu would eventually bump into a 72-year old former overseas pro basketball player, Tony Davis, who confirmed that Willie Wong -- among other great USF stars, most notably Bill Russell -- would have made it to the NBA back in the day if not for racial barriers. A third friend of Dream League, Bob Giron (SF Chronicle article and USF Press Release), who helped out with VIP communications for the Yao screening, also passed away.]

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