Christian Laettner to host youth basketball camp
Scheduled for late December
By Erik Buchinger
Former college and professional basketball player Christian Laettner will host a youth basketball camp in Kaukauna in late December for kids ages 7-18.
Laettner played college basketball at Duke and played professionally for 13 years in the NBA.
“I’ve been doing my basketball academy since 2010 and get really good response from Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Laettner said. “I’m hoping people in the area stuck in the cold can come hang out in the gym. Kids can come and learn a lot in the gym with me because it’s basketball, and it’s something I love to do even during the holidays.”
Laettner said the kids he works with at basketball camps understand his basketball career by researching online.
“I don’t explain it to them, but you can tell the first morning they’re not sure who I am. Then it seems like the parents get them on the phone or computer and show videos of when I was younger,” Laettner said. “Kids look at me differently like they know who I am. That’s always a lot of fun, so thank God for Google and YouTube. Kids like getting pictures and autographs, and it’s a good time.”
Laettner discussed what kids and parents say to him during camps.
“The kids don’t really ask me about anything except how tall I am and how big my feet are,” Laettner said. “Parents will sometimes come up and say they remember where they were when I hit the Kentucky shot. Then they might ask about Duke teams because everybody wants to know about Duke.”
Laettner said he is fortunate to be able to make money teaching a sport he loves.
“This is my main job and the way I make money,” Laettner said. “It’s easy for me, and I love doing it. Going all over the country all year long teaching the game, I just love being on the basketball court.”
Laettner said his biggest message to kids under age 13 is to be highly proficient at the four main skills with catching, dribbling, passing and layups.
“When I work with older players like a varsity team, I make them play five-on-five without dribbling,” Laettner said. “They hate it, but you’ve got to pass, cut and move, which are great skills to teach kids. I make them do that and after 10 or 15 minutes, they get the hang of it.”
Register by going to the Christian Laettner Basketball Academy website theclba.com. The camp will be held at Holy Cross Gym at 309 Desnoyer St. in Kaukauna.
Camp dates and times
- Friday, Dec. 28, 9-10:30 a.m. (Girls and boys ages 7-9. $30)
- Friday, Dec. 28, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Boys only ages 10-13. $35)
- Friday, Dec. 28, 1:30-3 p.m. (Girls only ages 10-13. $35)
- Saturday, Dec. 29, 9-11 a.m. (Girls only ages 14-18. $40)
- Saturday, Dec. 29, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (Boys only ages 14-18. $40)
- Saturday, Dec. 29, 2:30-4:30 p.m. (All Star Clinic by invite only ages 14-18. $40)
Laettner is teaming up with Rich Kuranda, owner of RSK Sports and director of the Wisconsin Blizzard basketball program.
Kurand is also the Hortonville football JV coach and previously was an assistant boys’ basketball coach for the Polar Bears.
For more information on the camp, contact Kuranda at firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-209-4828.
In his free time, Laettner said he loves to get on the lake to fish, especially for muskellunge.
“I have been to the wonderful waters in Green Bay, trolling the waters there, Shawano Lake and a bunch of places there in Wisconsin,” Laettner said. “That’s why I love going up there. I get to work on the court, and if I have time to do some muskie fishing, I do that too.”
Laettner got into muskie fishing in 1996 with Sol Brandys, his strength and conditioning coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“He is a muskie fisherman and was the first person to take me fishing up there,” Laettner said. “That’s when I fell in love with the area around Northern Minnesota and in Wisconsin.”
The largest muskie Laettner caught during his fishing adventures is 54.5 inches.
“Muskie fishing is a lot like sports because you have to be prepared and know what you’re doing,” Laettner said. “You’ve got to have some skill out there, but you’ve also got to be lucky so there’s a correlation there between hunting and a lot of sports. Once you get one of those big fish in the net, it’s a lot of fun because you’re catching the biggest, baddest fish in the water.”
Laettner said he enjoys sharing his passion of fishing with his children.
“They go fishing with me, and my biggest joy sharing that with them,” Laettner said. “They love it, and they always enjoy coming up with me.”
Laettner played at Duke four years in college and was a star on back-to-back national title teams in 1991 and 1992, most notably for a game-winning shot against Kentucky to reach the Final Four in 1992, a shot he hears parents talk to him about during camps.
“I enjoyed playing for the Duke fan base and enjoyed their love and support for me,” Laettner said. “That meant the world to me, and that was the reason I went to Duke. I knew the Duke fans supported the players at the highest level. Their support was the greatest feeling in the world.”
Laettner was the center of an ESPN documentary that aired in 2015 titled, “I Hate Christian Laettner.”
“I didn’t love title, but at the end of it I loved the entire movie,” Laettner said. “I see the point of the title. It is very provocative, and I’m sure it drove a lot of people into seeing the movie. ESPN did not want only the Duke lovers, they wanted everybody. By calling it, ‘I Hate Christian Laettner,’ it drew people in, and people liked it. I have to force myself not to watch it, and I get a warm feeling watching the movie.”
Laettner said he learned to thrive off the animosity from opposing fans when Duke went on the road.
“When you’re the better team all the time, you’re going to be on everyone’s chopping block,” Laettner said. “They’re tired of you beating them all the time, so you have to learn to thrive off that a little bit because you’re going to get that every game. You’re going to get that animosity from the opposing fans.”
After winning a national title as a junior, Laettner considered leaving college early for the NBA, which was an uncommon thing to do in the early 1990s but elected to stay to win another championship.
“I thought about it a little after my junior year because we won championship, but when I was playing not many people were leaving early,” Laettner said. “Some were leaving after their junior year. I thought about it a little, but I loved Duke and wanted to have a chance at another championship, and that’s why I stayed.”
After college, Laettner played for 13 years in the NBA until 2005. He played for the Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards and Miami Heat during his NBA career.
“I loved [college basketball and NBA] equally. Playing basketball is the greatest job in the world to me,” Laettner said. “To play at Duke included unbelievable memories and every second in the NBA was unbelievable memories. That’s what you’re striving for. I got to play basketball and was living the dream every second of every day.”