Dime: A lot of people may have misconceptions about your Father Knows Best program as just simply serving as a basketball clinic. Why is it more than basketball and more about life?
Allan Houston: Basketball is a tool. It can be used to get a lot of people out of unfortunate situations. The same way as music and art does. For us, we’re using basketball to paint a bigger picture. That bigger picture is letting people know that there are men who are fathers, coaches and teachers that are really trying to be out there for their kids. Statistics and public perceptions suggest that they’re not. So, our message is not enough just to be there for your kids. Someone is going to raise our kids if we don’t. It’s not enough to be there but we have to train them. My father was there for me as a coach and as a mentor. I’ve learned certain principals – life principals and skills – from playing from him that I felt like we had to share. Our goal is to tell the men and tell the families that the power and presence in their lives is to train them to be what God chose them to be.
Dime: You’ve just mentioned that your father was able to instill certain skills and traits in you such as a direction and instruction. Are those some of the same traits and lessons you try to pass down to your son?
AH: Well not only my son, but I have five daughters. So the thing is, people are seeing this as a father-son thing but we have girls here. We have daughters here. I have five daughters that are going to look to a man. What’s the picture of a man going to look like? Hopefully it’s going to look like what I, in my imperfect way, have given them. So, it’s about training these young men to not only be fathers, but also how to teach their daughters. I want to pass these lessons down to my son. I want to pass them onto anybody who comes to this foundation and who comes to the Knicks. These are the same conversations I have with our players about life, family, and basketball because they all come together.
Dime: I’ve always loved the movie He Got Game with Ray Allen and Denzel.
AH: I just saw the movie two weeks ago. It was amazing.
Dime: I mention that movie because of the father-son relationship within that film and what I’ve seen with you and your son today. Did you ever find yourself pushing your son to love the game the same way you did?
AH: You know, it’s funny that you asked that. I have had struggles earlier on when I was naming him and giving him the third because I didn’t want him to go through situations where he felt he had pressure to live up to his name. But now, I have peace knowing that it’s not about how good he is in a sport. His name should hold more weight than his skill. His name should be who he’s representing – his identity. He’s a young man who loves God and who has character. My thing is whatever sport he plays, however good he is, he has to know these five fundamentals that we teach in our program to know who he really is. Basketball is something you do. Who you are is your life principles. Are you someone who can be trusted? Are you hard-working? Are you a leader? Are you someone people like to emulate? When I talk to him about football and basketball, he knows he’s competing for me but it’s about how he does – the way he goes about it. It’s not about how many touchdowns he scores or in basketball how many points he scores. I’ll push him in a way that I want him to be great at whatever he does. Quick story about that, I asked him the other day: “Where do you see yourself?” Because some kids would say “I wanna be the next Kobe. I wanna be this.” He said, “I just wanna be the best I can be at whatever I do.” What else do I need?
Dime: Switching gears, because you were one of the best pure midrange shooters in the game, which three players in your mind would you say became the best mid-range shooters in the league since you left?
AH: Wow. Kobe, ‘Melo, ummm. (Pauses) Wow, this is tough.
Dime: I would say Rip.
AH: I’m thinking Rip or Ray. Yeah I would say Kobe, as matter of fact I would throw Rip (in). It’s tough to take Ray out. It really is. Can I say four?
Dime: Sure. Why not? (Laughs)
AH: I’m going to say Rip, ‘Melo, Kobe and Ray.
Dime: You gotta round out the five man. (Laughs)
AH: Steve Nash (Laughs)
Dime: He is one definitely a great shooter. A lot of people would forget because he’s always dishing out the ball.
AH: If you watch his shooting percentage, he’s always been great.
What was the best moment of Houston’s career?
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