Like father, like son
BARRY ROCK likes to take it easy on Sunday mornings. So does his son Rahiim Gibbons.
It is a far cry from their hectic week that involves work, basketball practice sessions, and games.
Barry, who coaches the three Burger King Clapham Bulls teams, has been involved in the game for more than 30 years. Rahiim started playing when he was 11 years old and a student at Wesley Hall Primary.
Their love for basketball runs deep, and Rahiim will tell you that playing the game is in his blood as most uncles and cousins used to play.
“Coming from a basketball family, I was around it from an early age so even before I went into secondary school I was interested in any tournaments that they would have at Harrison College or on the court at Clapham,” said the captain of the Bull’s Premier League team.
Twenty-four-year-old Rahiim said that he when he started playing ball, his dad didn’t want him to.
“I guess it was because of the reputation that he had. He was very good and I think he didn’t want me to have the pressure of living up to that. I used to play cricket but then the love for basketball peaked.
“Him being there watching my youth games was a good feeling, knowing I have someone there supporting me and that he went through the same things that I did,” he said.
But what is it like having his dad as his coach?
“It’s even better having him as the coach. Because of the father and son relationship, I have a more intimate connection and it helps me knowing what he wants from the players as I can direct and guide the players a little better.
“It is kind double pressure on me,” he said with a chuckle, “but I put it all behind me because I’ve been doing it for so long. When I first started there was a lot of pressure, being that people used to say I got a spot on the team because I was his son, but the fact that I made the national team and got many awards obviously they can’t say that anymore.”
Dad Barry also started playing at a young age.
“I started playing when I was about 12. I made the national juniors [team] at 15, seniors at 17, played until I was about 28. I started with Clapham and then I moved on to Senators and played with them for about eight, nine years and then came back to Clapham, where I played for about three years, won a couple of championships. Then I went overseas, played again and started coaching full time.
“I like the excitement of basketball. It is extremely exciting . . . . It is a fast-thinking game and contrary to what a lot of people think, you have to be able to use your brain pretty quickly in order to be a good player. It is not like a dumb jock syndrome. Most of the good players are extremely smart in the way they think quickly,” he said.
Barry said that basketball brings the community together and even if residents do not attend the games they ask about their performance. He recalled that when the 36-year-old club was erecting the fence around the court, households contributed.
With the recently inked sponsorship deal with international franchise Burger King, Barry notes that more will be done to bring the community together.
What keeps Barry going after so many years?
“I had lost a brother who had come to watch me play a basketball game back in the 1980s. Sometimes when I stop playing it reminds me he lost his life on that type of night and I’m coming back here. Watching my son play sometimes reminds me of him and things like that keep me going,” he said pensively.
Since training is From Monday to Saturday, Sundays is time for them both to relax.
Barry often starts the day with a swim at his favourite beach at Worthing, Christ Church. Then he heads home to start cooking. He cooks almost every day for himself and his mum, who has Alzheimer’s. He said that a few years ago he didn’t know his way around the kitchen but after attending cooking classes at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic that changed because he wanted to be able to help his mum.
Sometimes dad and son spend the day together – which, of course, involves watching basketball on TV. Other times, it is just Barry in front of the TV watching a thriller or a comedy while Rahiim might be catching up on his sleep at home, or at the beach hanging with his friends. (Green Bananas Media)