Allan Houston Knows Best
The former Knick great leads a tour on fatherhood.
by J. Gamble
If you are in Vegas and decide to place a bet on what Allan Houston’s top priority has been recently, tonight’s Draft would seem like an easy lick for No. 1.
It is true that Houston, assistant to the Knicks president for basketball operations, and the Knicks have been working out players—mostly “point guards, with a winning attitude, who can shoot and make an immediate impact,” as Houston told me last week.
But this past weekend, the Knicks exec was at City College in Manhattan with a much different agenda. And true to the humble tone that endeared him to Knick fans during his very solid career, Houston was cool as the month of March, kicking it and balling with hundreds of kids and their father’s, trying to build stronger household-teams across the country as part of his Father Knows Best Basketball Tour, presented by NBATV. The Tour was inspired six years ago by the increasing absence of father-figures in America’s homes.
“In these times, we are fighting for our men and our families, and it is a battle to do that,” said Houston, a two-time NBA All-star and Olympic gold medalist. “My relationship with my father, playing for him and learning life’s lessons from him and seeing first-hand how he juggled coaching and family,” opened Houston’s eyes, he said, to the advantages he had.
“I never had to deal with the agents or AAU coaches who may not have had my best interest in mind,” Houston recalled. “The biggest things my dad taught me were character and humility. The most important thing a father can give to his son is to be an example of a responsible, hard-working, Godly man.”
The FKB tour is an offspring of the Allan Houston Foundation, whose mission is to promote a strong family unit, economic empowerment, and educational and spiritual growth.
The tour kicked off in May in Detroit [Detroit University], then Atlanta [Samson Health Canter] and wrapped with a two-day clinic in Manhattan. It’s an ill combination of a lot of hugs, family-on-family basketball, 2-on-2 celebrity runs, clinics, seminars and panels for fathers and sons, mentors and mentees.
The nitty gritty of it is, give a hoot about your legacy in your home. Mark Leighton and his son Tyler won the skills competition in Detroit and were flown to NY to compete on the tour’s final day.
“This is a great chance for us to share some good times together,” said Mark. “The message of father-son bonding is important and this tournament helps spread the word.”
Allan Houston has had success on the ball court at every level. From his college days at Tennessee—where he playing for his father, Wade—to his all-star career as one of the NBA’s most lethal long-range killers for the Pistons and Knicks. And now, as a retired pro and Knick exec, Houston is an integral part of the team’s hopeful return to the NBA’s elite.
Houston isn’t just a guy who got lucky. His ability to ball and avoid the pitfalls that have damaged other high-profile athletes, comes from his unique relationship with his dad, an active participant in Houston’s on and off court development.
“Protect homecourt by any means necessary is our motto,” said Wade as he sat on a bench in the City College gym watching kids ages 5 to 15 ball out.
By homecourt he means the crib. The family. Not a 20,000-seat arena with people cheering your name.
The NBA is synonymous with player promiscuity and broken homes. If there ever was a poster child for all that is good in the League, it’s Allan Houston. His integrity and reputation as a great dude within the basketball community is why the Knicks promoted him to front-office status. Houston’s hiring marks the end of a turmoil-filled Isiah Thomas era rife with bad decisions, losing and a sexual harassment scandal.
Houston, a national spokesperson for National Fatherhood Initiative, is also quick to point out that his tour is not just for biological fathers and sons, but any man who is a strong male presence in a kid’s life.
Father Wade proudly boasts about the success of Allan as well as Allan’s sisters—one a professional long jumper, and the other a doctor. But he doesn’t take all of the props. He credits former Knick players like Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Charlie Ward with “embracing Allan and making him an even better player and man.”
The NBA has recently embraced the FKB tour and Allan believes they have the paper to expand the tour way past the thousands of kids already part of FKB Nation.
“Basketball is our life,” Houston says. “But we also want to arm fathers with the necessary life skills needed to secure a positive legacy in their home.”
Go ahead playa, playa.