When the campers at the Warriors Youth Basketball Academy open the doors to the gym, they know they’re on the same court where Steph Curry worked. In downtown Oakland, at the location that used to be the Warriors’ practice facility before the team moved to San Francisco, this was the lab where Steph perfected his daily routine.
Youth Basketball assistant coach Aalim Moor notices how campers walk in, eyes wide, looking at the championship banners above the hoops.
“First they come in, they see the logo, they see the Warriors and they think, where’s Steph? Where's Draymond?" Moor said.
"We let them know, hey look, we’re trying to turn you into the next Steph, the next Draymond. We’re definitely going to go through some of the same drills they do.”
The campers range from age eight to 15. Sometimes they’ll do training for kids as young as five. Moor said around age nine or ten, campers are receptive to the idea that the glory of splashing threes does not come without the work.
“One time we showed a kid Steph’s pregame workout,” Moor recalled. “And it helped them understand the drill that we're doing right here is a drill he's doing before the game. When he can get in the game, he can do all of the amazing things that he does, but it all starts with fundamentals.”
Moor’s fundamentals began when he grew up in Oakland. Basketball was a way of life for his family. His uncle played at Berkeley High and Oregon State. His father played basketball and coached Moor and his cousins.
His father’s influence shaped his perspective.
“Just really work hard. He was my biggest supporter also, you know, my biggest critic, but he just made sure to instill confidence in me.”
Moor played at St. Mary’s -- a highlight reel is on YouTube -- and earned a full ride to San Jose State University.
His relationship with the Warriors began in 2009 when he worked a summer camp as an intern. Moor’s SJSU coaches knew Jeff Addiego, the Senior Director of Youth Basketball, and recommended him. That relationship turned into more opportunities, first in game operations during the 2014-2015 season, then a full-time job as a Youth Basketball assistant in 2015-2016.
Moor felt like the timing was perfect.
“I'd tell Jeff all the time, I feel like I'm good luck,” he joked. “When I got here, we start winning championships!”
Moor’s smile reveals his gratefulness too.
“You have aspirations and dreams of playing in the NBA, but to be able to work in the NBA, I think, is the next best thing. I can't really put it into words.”
His first summer as a full-time employee, Moor remembers all 32 of the camp sessions were sold out, including overnight camps in Monterey and Hawaii.
COVID-19 has changed what the Warriors can do for camps currently. The staff pivoted to Shoot 360 workouts.
These workouts use cameras and videoboards to record and measure how a camper shoots, passes, and dribbles. Shoot 360 platforms are interactive, opening the possibility to compete with people around the country.
“I could be shooting, and playing against somebody in Vancouver or L.A. or Houston, and we'll be able to see in real time who's winning this particular shooting,” Moor explained.
Imagine shooting in an extremely advanced Pop-A-Shot “cage," an individual station closed off with nets. The cameras track three elements of the camper’s shot: The arc, the depth, and the left-right placement.
The skills cage has more than 350 drills for ball handling, and even more if a camper wants to use two balls.
The passing cage captures a camper’s velocity and accuracy.
Seeing campers improve their games makes Moor feel overjoyed. He’s a natural teacher who likes helping others succeed. He carries this feeling into his work on the Warriors’ Black Alliance Network, which recently hosted events with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to open pathways to careers in sports.
Moor said, “I'm a coach. I love to be able to talk to the younger generation and kind of give them anything that I know.”
He remembers a camp he was directing about two years ago. A boy made an impression on his heart.
“He was walking out, you know, his mom's thanking me, and he just looked at me and said, ‘Coach, thank you.’ I think of the way he looked at me and it's just...they were cutting onions that day. I don't know what happened. The wind blew in my eye kinda,” he said. “It watered a little bit, I don’t know.”
When Moor talks about his job, his earnestness comes through like a full-blast chest pass.
“To be able to continue working in basketball and help shape the next generation of athletes, whatever they want to be, I think is extremely important. I had some great mentors and people in my life, like my father. So to be able to give back, I think, is the most precious thing I can do.”
For more information about the Warriors’ youth basketball camps, go to GSWAcademy.com. All pictures courtesy @GSWAcademy.