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B-ball fun and more at Linden

A little bit of Harlem magic came to Linden Tuesday morning as Linden High School students were treated to a performance by motivational speaker and former Harlem Globetrotter Buffy “Mr. Magic” Coleman.

“I’m from a small town myself,” the Louisiana native told the students. “That’s something you and I have in common. The main reason I’m here, ladies and gentlemen, is to tell you that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you can be a success.”

As proof, Coleman offered his own story, which starts in northwest Louisiana and took Coleman to the pinnacle of the basketball entertainment game. Along with a brief spell in 1993 with the Harlem Globetrotters, Coleman has been a longtime member of the Harlem Wizards professional basketball team and has now toured the country for years putting on his basketball show. Coleman also has ties to the popular “And1” national basketball tour.

Coleman’s performance Tuesday in the Linden gymnasium included a dribbling exhibition, plenty of basketball spins, and a fun “contest” in which Linden students and teachers tried to catch Coleman’s unusual and surprising passes, often made with the performer’s head or even his feet. The last student to fail to catch one of Coleman’s passes was awarded a videotape of some of Coleman’s best highlights with the Wizards.

But more important than the fun Coleman was offering the Linden student body, he said, was the message he had to deliver about the importance about staying away from drugs and violence and believing in one’s self.

“Everyone here has a dream,” he told the students. “And whatever your dream is, if you always believe in yourself, you can do it.”

Coleman also emphasized the value of hard work in order to achieve those dreams.

“Everybody you see who is successful,” Coleman said, including myself and his two to three hours a day” or solitary practice in the gym, “has worked very, very hard to have that success.”

Linden High principal Timothy Thurman said he was more than pleased with Coleman’s performance and message.

“He did a tremendous job,” Thurman said. “I really appreciated his message. I’m a firm believer that you have to have the right attitude. A good education is critical, but you have to have the right attitude. I think he did a great job.”

The performance was sponsored by the Linden City School Parental Involvement Program.