Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big Dub in good spirits at camp

Wayne Simien high-fives his campers after running through the importance of working hard off the ball on defense. Simien ran the first session of his "Called to Greatness" basketball camp on Tuesday at Free State High.

Wayne Simien high-fives his campers after running through the importance of working hard off the ball on defense. Simien ran the first session of his "Called to Greatness" basketball camp on Tuesday at Free State High.


Youth camp mixes faith, basketball

Former Kansas forward Wayne Simien is back on the Lawrence hardwood. The Jayhawks' all-American is combining his basketball life with his faith life this week. DJ Whetter has the story.


Wayne Simien high-fives his campers after running through the importance of working hard off the ball on defense. Simien ran the first session of his "Called to Greatness" basketball camp on Tuesday at Free State High.

Lucious Wagner, who played alongside Wayne Simien on Leavenworth High's 2000 Kansas Class 6A state championship basketball team, has since followed his buddy's college and pro career closely.

"It's a lot easier to keep track of him since he's on TV a lot," former University of Evansville standout Wagner said.

Wagner, who played pro ball in the Czech Republic last season, has cheered Big Dub's accomplishments (Simien is Kansas University's No. 7 rebounder and No. 12 scorer of all-time and a first-round 2005 draft pick of the Miami Heat) and jeered his many physical setbacks.

"Wayne has had bad luck for a long time," Wagner said Tuesday at Simien's "Called to Greatness" youth basketball camp at Free State High. "Every time he gets going, something else happens. He's a great guy and bad things keep happening to him, but he always seems to work through them. That's why I look up to him."

Simien - he had knee and shoulder problems at KU - played in 43 games his rookie season with the Heat, but just eight games in '06-07 when he was hit hard by salmonella poisoning. Simien sat out last season after getting traded to, and immediately released by, Minnesota. Simien was paid all season while rehabbing a surgically repaired knee.

Most recently, Simien tweaked his hamstring at Atlanta Hawks minicamp, but after missing summer league still was invited to the Hawks' veteran camp this fall.

"I think I have a legitimate shot to make that roster," said Simien, who shrugged off the hamstring pull as a minor setback.

Simien, in fact, was in great spirits on Tuesday, touched by a good turnout - 45 girls and 120 boys - for the first session of his first-annual camp.

The three-day camp, as outlined on his Web site, combines basketball instruction and scrimmaging with life lessons.

A nonprofit camp, all proceeds go back into Simien's Called To Greatness program.

"We have breakdown times where we share different things with the campers, ministry time," Simien said. "Today we talked about the definition of greatness, not just being wrapped up in your accomplishments, but being great in what God calls you to be and who he says you are."

Simien's personal trainer, Doug Hix, flew in from California to speak to the youths about "feeding your body nutritionally and also feeding your spirit," Simien noted.

"Those are things we'll be touching on these three days. We've got great response from the kids and their parents. They are really enjoying it."

Simien, who lives with his wife, Katherine, and daughter, Selah, in Lawrence (another baby is on the way) on Tuesday explained his passion for not only basketball, but his faith. He said his life was changed for the better after his sophomore year at KU. He'll never forget the circumstances.

"I'll be plain with you. I was a jerk," Simien said. "I was an arrogant, self-centered, adulterous guy. As a college student I had everything that the world says there is to make you happy. I had the fame. I had an NBA contract waiting for me. I had all the drugs and alcohol and girls available to me. I was really looking for something greater to live for, because those things didn't fulfill me. I found out in living for the kingdom of God. I saw the life of Jesus Christ and how he was able to impact so many people in the things he did. I wanted to do my best to try to have my life have that same kind of effect.

"When God came in my life going into my junior year, he completely changed me from the inside out. My life ... Jesus Christ gets all the credit and glory for the man I am today."

Wagner said that man is almost too good to be true.

"Wayne is probably a better guy than most people realize," said Wagner, who is working as an instructor at the camp. "A lot of guys in the NBA get bad reps. Wayne is definitely the opposite of anything you would think negatively about the NBA. Hopefully we both can play basketball a long time and just grow old," Wagner added with a laugh.

"I'll keep going (in basketball) until I can't go any more," Simien declared.


okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

You're right, hawkitup, I don't get what he's saying. And if everyone did, the world would be a very boring place, wouldn't it?

KUbsee69 13 years, 10 months ago

okjhok ...Age Quod Agis.I always, based on your comments, figured you were on drugs.

bringheatwavewheat 13 years, 10 months ago

Wayne, you flat out rock. We hawksters are honored to have you as an alum. Everyone else, don't let the criticism of a few bother you too much. No matter how positive and uplifting the story, you'll always have haters. I hope we all can find the same fulfillment Wayne has.

okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

I don't know where you guys see all this negativity that you speak of. I, for one, am definitely not commenting negatively. Quit crying because not everyone thinks the same as you, or finds this to be an "uplifting" story. I said it before, and I'll say it again, since some of can't seem to follow along very well. Wayne Simien is a great bball player, did great things at KU, I loved watching him play, I respect his beliefs, and I'll still take the alcohol and girls over christianity every day of the week, and three times on Sunday.

hawkfan4life 13 years, 10 months ago

Ha Ha...that was really kind of funny. Simien thinks he was a jerk but he really always has been a good guy, kind of a square to be honest with you. I think he is making his testimony sound pretty good. He hasn't ever done any drugs...they were definitely available in the towers but I have seen Wayne pass on a Corona...that stuff just makes the story sound a bit more interesting. The chicks, yeah he definitely had those. One super nice looking that I can remember in particular. Miss the good ol days.

JayCeph 13 years, 10 months ago

Keep the drugs... give me the alcohol and girls.I wonder when djkc23 will show up with a comment on this article. Hmmm.

jhfan 13 years, 10 months ago

Gentlemen, when did Wayne try to cram his beliefs down anyone's throat? Did he do that to you when he was at KU his last two years? He is putting forth his role modeling to those who wish to hear. All that he is saying is that God has been the agent of change in his life and the root of his convictions. We often hear athletes share what has contributed to their personal success. Wayne is simply providing character building as part of his thing. If you don't like his thing, fine. Just give him the same right you have to tell his story. You have certainly told your stories on this site today. You don't mind putting forth your value systems as part of a sports dialogue. Don't say it is out of place for others to do the same.

overseashawk 13 years, 10 months ago

You guys are taking this WAY too far. I don't think that he is cramming anything! He's one of the best players in KU history. So what if he is religious? I'm sure most of you are baptized christians. I'm sure that at least half of you believe in God. I'm sure that some of you believe that you can have a better life by following religious principles.I'm not attempting to be religous but am simply stating alot of statement on here might well be hypocritical. Mike Sweeney does not get as much criticism for being religous. Like Wayne he was raised Catholic. Is some of the negativity possibly due to the fact that Wayne is preaching in a non-denominational christian way?Wayne grew up about a block away from my house and although I've alway thought he was a nice guy I'm very proud to see that he has found a sense of self betterment. All of us should be so lucky as to acheive such a sense of self gratitude.I for one believe that Wayne is possibly the best ex-Jayhawk to not have a long pro career. This is debatable but I feel I can back this up.

Alex Staley 13 years, 10 months ago

You guys need to start looking at this from Simien's perspective. If he believes that eternal salvation is achieved through a relationship with God, then isn't it awesome that he cares enough about you and me that he tells us about it, whether we want to hear it or not? You people look at it like he is cramming religion down your throats when all he is trying to do is what he thinks is in your best interest. How dare you criticize him (regardless of your beliefs)?

NH_JHawk 13 years, 10 months ago

I find these comments to be some of the most interesting threads to read. Good to see everyone's being true to form today. Notice how anytime that religion or politics gets mixed up with the sports reporting (a volatile subject in its own right) the passion of individual convictions readily surfaces.Carry on!

okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

jhfan,I'll try and answer your question about liking Wayne as a basketball player, but not as a quality individual. For me, it's because I only know him as a basketball player. I'm not going to denegrate someone for their personal beliefs. I don't need a strong spiritual, religious, mythical, etc., presence in my life to be a "quality individual." Apparently, some people do, and that's fine by me. But just like I'm not going to tell someone how to live, I don't need anyone telling me how to live. Let me ask you this. Does one have to believe in a god to be a role model?

JayCeph 13 years, 10 months ago

I think the whole notion of 'what is out of place' has been misplaced. I don't believe anyone is begrudging Wayne his beliefs (but I am a Utopian idealist)... I think they would just prefer he keep his faith-related concerns to himself. Should that part of his dialectic spill into the arena of mass consumption, it will be debated.It doesn't equate to say that you cannot question someone for their belief structure if you profess to not want to illuminate yours. That is the whole idea. I keep my faith and you can keep yours and he can keep his. I don't need to try on his shtick to know it doesn't fit. He is much taller than I am.

okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

Love Wayne for what he did as a Jayhawk. That said, I'll take the drugs, alcohol, and girls any day.

JayCeph 13 years, 10 months ago

jhfan, would you feel the same way towards Wayne if he espoused his political beliefs with as much vigor? What if he was a walking billboard for immigrants' rights? How about the decriminalization of marijuana? Nobody is begrudging Wayne's bball persona but when he spills over into 'non-germane' territory, it becomes a topic of discussion. Some find humor in it, others find solace. Regardless, it is out there for comment.

quigley 13 years, 10 months ago

blk-Nice response, untill you made the last sentence a question.

JayCeph 13 years, 10 months ago

okjhok, you have impressed me with your posts. I think you and I need to go have a beer (or six) and chat about the many virtues of things like basketball, girls, and the freedom to choose one's individual path in life without having the righteously indignant ponder ways to inflict their truncated views on others under the guise of 'our best interests.'I think Osama bin Laden was trying to do that too... does anyone remember how, one peaceful September morning, he tried to do what he thought was in our best interest (or at least the best interest of those that share his belief structure)?All that being said, I really dig Wayne and think he is a credit to KU. Let's just try to keep the (theistic) soap box out of the peach basket.

kunomu 13 years, 10 months ago

I have never understood why non-christians get so upset and offended by christians. I don't get upset because you aren't a christian...Wayne is frankly the man!

tis4tim 13 years, 10 months ago

Beliefs are internal manifestations. Once those beliefs are verbalized, especially in the case of religion, it always seems to come across as proselytizing. I don't know why that is. Like a few said earlier, religious beliefs are deeply personal things. Some people just don't want to hear others reveal such intimate things about themselves. I don't think it has to do with a dislike for Christianity or any other religion.

kunomu 13 years, 10 months ago

Wayne is my favorite Jayhawk, not only for what a great player he was on the court, but the type of roll model he is off the court. Wayne is flat out the best!

streetspirit 13 years, 10 months ago

Nobody is denying Wayne his right to tell his story (which we've all heard many times on this site by the way). Its just that religion is a personal subject that is innately controversial. I would be willing to bet if Wayne is a devout Muslim and every article written about him centers on him being a devout Muslim and he is starting a Muslim basketball camp there would be a few negative comments. It just comes with the religion territory. Why do you think wars are started on the basis of religion?

imnotpaulpierce 13 years, 10 months ago

I think Wayne may be too preachy even for djkc23. Lay off the God sauce for a while...

d_prowess 13 years, 10 months ago

Where is a comment from the guy/gal that posts on here about wanting to hear about players religion? I thought he would be all over this and thanking LJW.

okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

Actually, I'm with you occupation precludes me from controlled sunstances.KUbsee69,Was that a personal attack? I'm guessing that, by the use of latin, you're quite serious. I don't really want to have any cyber enemies, so I'd prefer it if we could just be friends. I'm curious though. In your opinion, what drugs, based on my comments, did you figure I was on?

jhfan 13 years, 10 months ago

It has been some time since I commented on this site but read it with regularity. I am a died in the wool KU basketball fan. All that said, I am amazed at the negative comments about a strong role model. Wayne has as much right to express his views, even though they are spiritually oriented, as some of you have to spout your often vulger or insulting comments to one another. Why is it that you can like Wayne as a ball player but not as a quality individual. He is always just one man. What you see is what you get. No one going to his camps is forced to go and he makes it clear what they are to expect. Why trash a mans values when he is doing something good for others. What have you done today to improve the quality of someone's life or make their day better?

hawkitup 13 years, 10 months ago

Why does he have stop trying to "cram" religion down people's throat when people "cram" their humanistic beliefs down people's throats all the time and nobody seems to have a problem with that? That being said, I'm a big fan of Simien. I really hope he lands with an NBA team.Those who said they'd rather have the alchohol and women obviously don't get what Simien was saying...

kansaspike 13 years, 10 months ago

"bad things keep happening to him"Like the multi-million dollar contract he got from the Heat?Considering his injury prone past, that was a HUGE break for him.

KGphoto 13 years, 10 months ago

The only thing God loves more than saving arrogant, adulterous, drug addicts, is assisting on a touchdown.Is Wayne Simien the Jon Kitna of the NBA?I still love you Wayne, but don't be a Kitna. Preach Kansas instead!

Jonathan Allison 13 years, 10 months ago

Great story. I know that some people don't like to hear Simien preach, and that some people think that his faith has distracted him from his basketball. But when someone finds that one thing that really makes them happy, then that person can really discover how much everything else matters. Wayne loves basketball, and he loves playing basketball, but it seems like he sees the NBA as his job. He does it to make a living, and whether he's an All-Star or not he will make a good living playing basketball. But you can tell that training these kids to do the right things and make the right choices really makes him happy. Life's so much easier when you find out what your real priorities are.

WilburNether 13 years, 10 months ago

There was talk that Simien's locker-room preaching was a major cause of dissension among a number of his teammates during his senior year. Who knows?What I do know is that his grossly overly-long, self-indulgent "speech" at senior night was way, waaaaaay over the top.He's a good kid, but he needs to learn not to try to cram his religion down other people's throats.

okjhok 13 years, 10 months ago

No, blk99stang, that's not awesome. It's awesome when people can understand that we all have different points of view, different priorities, different lives, can learn to respect eachother's differences, and can leave it at that.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

I dislike Christianity. So, therefore, I dislike hearing it preached. I consider the blind faith in it, a weakness. Christianity has more holes in it than a Louisiana levee.Doesn't mean I don't like Wayne. But if he can say "God is great", then I can say "God is a personification, dreamed-up by men in order to control other men. And that fear of damnation has controlled us quite successfully".So when I hear someone preaching it, even though I'm happy that Wayne's happy, I feel sorry for them. To believe in Christianity is to put a limit on what else you can believe in. I won't do it, and I get frustrated when I see people use it as a crutch. I'm sure Wayne has too much potential, as do most people, to have it limited by a fictional rule book.I hate this. LJW, please no more religion. Can we talk about sports again?

chalmers2wright 13 years, 9 months ago

I understand that not everyone's beliefs (or lack of beliefs) are the same but I'm still not sure why people would be upset with the LJW about it. Like it or not religion is a part of Wayne Simien. This is a story about Wayne Simien. I knew what to expect before I even clicked on the link. I'm sure from a journalists standpoint it is pretty difficult to write about a religiously based person with out at least mentioning that aspect of his life (especially when writing about Wayne's camp which is a Christian basketball camp.) I can reread the article and check but I never once saw the LJW tell us we need to go to church or we need to change our lives through Christ or anything like that so stop complaining. If you don't want to read about it don't click on the story. If reading a story with bits and pieces of religion thrown in really bothers you then you are way too thin skinned to begin with.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

You can watch the entire movie Loose Change on Google Video or YouTube. There's no going back after watching it.When you're done with that Google "Zeitgeist". That'll REALLY wake you up.

BigD 13 years, 9 months ago

KGphoto, name some and provide at least 1st century evidence to support your claims. I've heard people say the same things and have no basis for saying them other than they've heard others make those statements. The reason why I know this is because it isn't about "weakness." This like most 18-19th century arguements that continue to get re-hashed by people who haven't taken the time to actually study what it is their saying beyond the philosophy 101 class taught by professors who continue to re-hash the same tired philosophies. The fact of the matter is there are many christian professors and leaders within our esteemed universities and businesses, including many within the science disciplines. Also, I should inform you that any belief one has requires faith, blind or otherwise because you cannot be 100% certain about a worldview. There is a great deal of support for Christianity which makes it a very rational belief. Please study more before critiquing a particular worldview.

Alex Staley 13 years, 9 months ago

KG- I feel the exact same way when people say that God is a made up being intended to control us. It breaks my heart and i feel sorry for them. It is not a question in my mind anymore whether he is real or not. Its like its just plain fact now. I can understand your point of view because you, likely, have never experienced God in your life. I have. That is why i KNOW that God is real. You can call me crazy or weak or whatever you want but theres a reason that Christianity is so huge. This is because there is something behind it. Its because there have been millions and millions of people who sit back and watch their life change because of it. It is am amazing thing that i dont really expect you to believe me about but nonetheless, I wish you could experience it as well.That being said, this is a basketball board and we should probably stick to that. Big Dub was awesome and is a credit to this program

sevenyearhawk 13 years, 9 months ago

The lack of djkc28 on this thread just proves that he's a charlatan ...

Dirk Medema 13 years, 9 months ago

JayCeph - If you think Osama bin Laden was trying to do do what he thought was in our best interest one peaceful September morning, you should search Youtube for loosechange. A few links are lame, and a few are quite long, but the vast majority are well worth watching and will rock your world.Actually, everyone should watch at least a few of the clips.

hawkitup 13 years, 9 months ago

Blind faith? Holes? Shouldn't you be referring to the theory of evolution when you use those terms....

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

No question it's a controversy. Maybe he made it up, maybe he didn't. But if you read on about his history with the school, there really is no doubt that he was targeted by "fundies". And that's the real point. An alarming level of force and violence by christian pushers, for such a morally sound unit. You rarely see it go the similarly the other way.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

A great deal of support for Christianity fits well within my point. What it doesn't do, is prove the validity of Christianity as it is presented to us. Besides there is a great deal of support for many other religions too. Is everybody right? How can that be? Somebody must be full of crap. There's a much larger story here than I could possibly go into on this post, but BigD, as far as my studies, I was a Religious Studies major at KU before switching, but I maintain my interest in the subject. And now in Boulder, some of my best friends are pursuing their masters in the subject. You ever read anything other than the bible?Are you THE Big Dub? Or a fake BigD?Either way, you should look up Paul Mirecki, and read-up about his experience at KU. Then take note that even though you find Christianity to be a positive, it can also be a tremendous negative. And I'm sure that the endless wars over christianity make quite a "rational" argument as well.Anyway, back to sports. How 'bout that Pollard huh? What a joker. Remember when he said "Hey kids, use drugs". Hilarious.

KGphoto 13 years, 9 months ago

Here you go BigD. With a little help from LJW, this will get you started. that's what you get for seeking the truth.

13 years, 9 months ago

I don't know if they ever found the assailants, but it sounds like possible handy work of Fred Phelps' cronies from Westboro Baptist Church. Every religion has their extremists, some more than others.Here's another interesting take on the story:

Alan Braun 13 years, 9 months ago

How can anyone say Wayne is "cramming his faith" down people's throats when the promotional material for his camp (check out his website makes it quite clear that it not just about basketball, that it is a ministry, and that Wayne's born-again Christianity is "what guides the vision of Called to Greatness"? Anyone who goes should know exactly what they're getting into and shouldn't be surprised at the ministry aspect. Here's what it says:"We focus on offensive and defensive skill development and how to take care of your body through exercise and nutrition. Be prepared to work hard, learn a lot, and have fun! Expect training to be rooted in Scriptural teaching. For example, each camper will learn what the Bible says about perseverance, attitude, aiming high and setting goals."I'd much rather hear about college & pro players involved with this kind of thing than the endless drug, booze, sex and violence scandals that seem to plague the sports world. Check out what's going on with the Iowa Hawkeyes right now to see what a cesspool it has become, then try to tell me Wayne's doing something wrong!

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