Sometimes it really is all in who you know.
After serving as Rob Ridnour’s assistant coach with the Bellingham Slam, Mike Elsner knew just the right person to make a memorable opening day of the first Jumpstart Hoop Fest at the Bellingham Boys and Girls Club July 30.
Making his second public appearance visit in Whatcom County in a month, former Borderite superstar Luke Ridnour appeared at the first day of the camp to the delight of autograph seekers and campers alike.
“I’ll be around today to watch you play,” Ridnour told the kids ranging from fourth to eighth grade, “and maybe come and steal the ball from you.”
“Luke’s a great guy,” said Elsner, a school teacher at Lynden high school, “his donating his time like this, for the kids, makes it fun.”
Elsner’s two-day camp featured a three-on-three tournament, a free throw competition and a three-point competition as well as intensive skill training.
In addition to joining Rob Ridnour on the Slam’s coaching staff, Elsner has coached for Nooksack Valley and at Whatcom Community College. The elder Ridnour assisted in coaching for the camp.
It was Ridnour’s first local appearance since the Sonics’ first round draft pick in 2003 became a free agent.
Lost in the media frenzy surrounding LaBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosch, the free agency of Ridnour garnered interest from his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks, the New York Knicks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Last week, Ridnour held a press conference in Minneapolis to confirm that he had accepted a four-year, $16 million deal to play for the T-wolves.
Ridnour will compete with Johnny Flynn for the starting point guard position. At age 29, Ridnour will be the oldest player on the team for Minnesota. Ridnour’s last season with the Milwaukee Bucks was generally considered his best yet. The seven-year veteran averaged 10.4 points off the bench, shooting at a blistering 47 percent from the field.
“We just felt this was the best decision for our family,” said Ridnour of his windfall deal with Minnesota, “I felt it was the best opportunity for me to get to play.”