Last Saturday’s 20-year reunion of Cal’s memorable 1992-93 men’s basketball team wasn’t just about exchanging stories about the Bears’ epic upset of Duke in the NCAA Tournament. It also was a collective look to the future.
Cal alum Shawn Granberry has teamed up with childhood friend Jason Kidd to form the Bears Youth Basketball Academy, a non-profit organization aimed at combining athletic and academic development. Granberry and Monty Buckley, Kidd’s teammate on the 1992-93 team, have been working hard reaching out to former Bears from their era and others to make a difference in the lives of Bay Area children.
“The main thing is teaching kids to be hard-working on and off the court,” Buckley said. “Whenever you can combine sports – in this case, basketball – with education and community support, it makes it much bigger than just sports.”
Several members of the 1992-93 team re-united at the Haas Pavilion Club Room on Saturday night. Along with Buckley, also on hand were former All-American Lamond Murray, Akili Jones, Stevie Johnson, K.J. Roberts and Al Grigsby.
The Bears were the No. 6 seed in the Midwest Region of the 1993 NCAA Tournament and surprised many by knocking off third-seeded Duke, 82-77. The Blue Devils, led by legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, entered the tournament having won back-to-back national championships.
“They hadn’t lost a tournament game in a long time,” Buckley said. “They had one of the greatest coaches ever at any level of basketball. That catapulted us to the big stage. It let people know we could play with the elite programs in the country.”
Saturday wasn’t only for 1992-93 team members. Also in attendance was Dr. Hardy Frye, a UC Berkeley professor who has led years of research about diversity in the campus community. He also is the president of Making Waves, a foundation in nearby Richmond committed to ensuring that low-income children gain the support and skills needed to graduate from four-year universities.
The event was also attended by Berkeley Youth Alternative executive director Nikki Williams and associate director Kevin Williams, as well as former Cal players from other teams such as Circus King and Anwar McQueen.
“It was a chance to talk about our programs and served as a launching point for our academy,” Granberry said. “It was a call to action.”
Granberry said he hopes to get former student-athletes from all Cal sports involved, not just basketball.
Granberry and Kidd attended elementary school together and Granberry’s father, Earl, was Kidd’s first youth basketball coach. Kidd, who enjoyed an All-American career at Cal and was a 10-time NBA All-Star, is about to enter his first season as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets.
“Jason and I got together and to talk about how we can help kids in our community,” Granberry said. “What can we do to use his celebrity and my research to help as many kids as possible? He has the celebrity power and I have the connections to some smart people. Let’s make it happen.”
Granberry said Kidd will supply a lot of the financial support and spend time with the academy once a year to help raise a yearly budget.
The Bears Youth Basketball Academy is run at the Berkeley Youth Alternative and the nearby Realm Charter School. All children in the academy receive full academic support from tutors that are current Cal students, who track their report cards. The kids also take three college tours per year.
Granberry said even in the third grade, it’s beneficial for kids to observe other young people wearing a backpack and taking school seriously.
“The tutors are paired with each team,” he said. “We want to see kids see another young person with a book bag that is in college. They are not that much older. They see that they are going to school, doing their homework – everything they are supposed to do.”