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SportsDave Feschuk: The sensational, inspirational, motivational story of Fabulous Flournoy

07:52  10 september  2019
07:52  10 september  2019 Source:   thestar.com

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Throughout history , people have used inspirational stories to teach, encourage, and inspire in hopes that the listener will use it as a stepping stone and as an example to live a better life. Some will make you think, some will make you cry. Hopefully, some will give you that motivation to go for your dreams.

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Dave Feschuk: The sensational, inspirational, motivational story of Fabulous Flournoy© HILARY SWIFT Fabulous Flournoy has spent the last 22 years in the British Basketball League, first as a player, then as a player-coach. It was a call from Nick Nurse that started his journey to the U.K. and another call from Nurse that got him to leave.

First impressions being important, the newly employed assistant coach of the NBA champion Raptors would like to address the matter of his eye-catching given name. It was his beloved mother who christened him Fabulous. Fabulous Flournoy — an adjective meant to inspire a child of the grim Bronx to dream he might one day be great.

But not even his mother calls him Fabulous.

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The story starts out where she, Beth, is sitting at an airport terminal, waiting to board a plane. She was sitting there with several other people who were also waiting, whom she did not know. As she waited, she pulled out her Bible and started reading.

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“It’s just Fab — it helps to lower the expectations,” Flournoy says with a laugh. “If I walk into a room and the very first thing I say is, ‘Hi, my name is Fabulous,’ it’s like, ‘Yeah, you’re Fabulous. And I’m Marvellous.’ Having a funky name, it makes you stand out. And I want to stand out for the right reasons.”

For the past 22 years, Flournoy has been carving out a considerable legend in the British Basketball League, where Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, in the early days of his globe-trotting coaching career, gave Flournoy his first break as a professional player. Flournoy is the winningest coach in the history of the league. He has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in appreciation of the countless hours of community service he has put in while promoting his sport. And he has never stopped playing, before now. Accepting the job in Toronto required the 46-year-old Flournoy to retire as player-coach of the Newcastle Eagles.

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“I will miss playing. I believe I could play strong until 50,” Flournoy says. “But you don’t get a call from the defending champions of the NBA every day.”

He has carved out a reputation for a Tom Brady-esque dedication to a performance-focused diet and training schedule. According to a 2017 New York Times profile, he makes his own almond milk and presses his own juice, concocts homemade toothpaste out of baking soda and coconut oil, and he once experimented with a diet in which he consumed 30 to 40 bananas a day for about three months. And Flournoy’s background story is an epic.

Raised by a single mother in the Bronx, Flournoy said it wasn’t uncommon for he and his three siblings — older brother Divine, sister Precious and younger brother Calvin — to sleep in one bed. And that was in good times, when the family shook off stretches of homelessness and secured a place in public housing.

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“When most people were trying to escape the projects,” he has said, “we were trying to get in.”

Flournoy said many of his childhood friends succumbed to the lure of gangs and drugs and other routes to fast money, but he always envisioned something better for himself. Basketball was a way out, but he was hardly a prime prospect. As a high schooler he failed to score high enough on the SAT to qualify for NCAA Division 1. It was only when he landed at a junior college in Texas that he discovered one the roots of his scholastic struggle: severe dyslexia. Flournoy credits a couple of attentive educators with helping him overcome the disorder; he says he’s found a way to make sense of the world by imagining words in pictures and often reading sentences backwards, from right to left.

It was a triumph, then, when he transferred to Division 1 McNeese State, in Lake Charles, La., and emerged with a degree in criminal justice. Still, his graduation year was marred by the murder of his brother Divine, who died in a nightclub shooting. He said he considered avenging the murder until his mother insisted it be put in the past. Still, Flournoy was left at a crossroads.

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“I didn’t want to go back home to New York. I didn’t want to end up pumping gas at a gas station. I didn’t want to end up hustling in the street,” Flournoy says.

All he wanted was to play basketball. Which was where Nurse came in. Then an assistant coach at the University of South Dakota, Nurse was leading a barnstorming tour of England for college graduates looking for work in the BBL, a relative backwater league compared to Europe’s best loops. Flournoy and a teammate heard about the trip and signed up.

“All it was was a risk, a gamble,” Flournoy says. “You weren’t guaranteed a job. I played my heart out. Some guys got picked up and some guys didn’t.”

Flournoy didn’t. So he returned to the Bronx, got a job working security at a Baby Gap, and pondered his fate.

“I was down. Here I was, spent four years in school, tried to do everything the right way, and here I was, working security,” Flournoy says. “I had some of my friends hustling who were making money, and money was fast. I was trying to find who I was without trying to compromise the things I believe in. I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t going to happen for me.’”

A few months later he quit the security gig to devote himself to a full-time existence as a hoopster, albeit an unemployed one, playing pickup games around New York City while keeping to a fiendish workout schedule. He figured he’d give himself four months to land a pro job. About three months in, the phone rang.

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A list of the best positive inspirational & motivational quotes for success in life that will help boost your confidence & uplift your spirit. On this page your will find 100 motivational quotes, lines, phrases, thoughts, and sayings (with images and pictures) that will touch upon success, strength, courage

The Stories have been taken from different books or magazines or newspapers. I have posted some good motivational videos from Youtube at the end of this blog. Do check out those videos. Mostly Masculine gender has been used in the stories but the principles apply for both male and female.

“It was Nick Nurse,” Flournoy says. “He said, ‘I just want to see if you were still interested in playing.’ I said, ‘Hell flippin’ yeah.’ And flippin’ wasn’t the word that I used.”

Never mind that his rookie salary ran about $200 a week. Flournoy says basketball, for him, has never been about the money. In Newcastle he resided in the attic of his assistant coach.

“It’s humble work over there,” Nurse says. “That league, the system Fab was in in Newcastle, was damn near a 9-to-5 job every day. He would probably go to a school and teach a bunch of kids how to play basketball in the morning, then go to practice, then go to a different school in the afternoon and run clinics and camps and dribbling exhibitions.

“He was trying to spread the love of the game, the love of the team, to get people to come out and watch him do his thing.”

Nurse, who’s trod the path from the British league to the game’s pinnacle, relates to the grind.

“There’s a lot of guys who can fill roles on a coaching staff, but I like the guys that go out there and actually grab a team to coach and work really hard at it,” Nurse says. “Fab’s worked really hard asking questions about incorporating things with offence, with teaching shooting, with defence. He’s studied it, put it into practice for his own team he was coaching. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and he’s always had a lot of questions.”

Flournoy isn’t Nurse’s only off-season addition to his expansive staff. On Monday the club announced Brittni Donaldson, formerly a data analyst for the Raptors, will take on a coaching role this season, becoming one of 10 women assistant coaches in the NBA. And Rob Tyndale, who played for Nurse in what’s now known as the NBA G League, has also been brought aboard. Flournoy and Tyndale will be “workout guys,” in the NBA parlance, tasked with spending countless hands-on, on-court hours with players honing individual skills. Both Flournoy and Tyndale were known for tirelessly honing theirs.

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The Stories have been taken from different books or magazines or newspapers. I have posted some good motivational videos from Youtube at the end of this blog. Do check out those videos. Mostly Masculine gender has been used in the stories but the principles apply for both male and female.

“Both those guys finish No. 2 and No. 3 on the hardest-playing players ever to play for me — I’d actually put Tyndale second and Fab third,” Nurse says. “And obviously Kyle Lowry’s No. 1 by a mile. I think it’s a helluva compliment.”

Flournoy, told of Nurse’s assessment, said he’s always in search of new ways to improve himself. It was only a couple of years ago that he decided to learn to swim — this so he could learn to surf, which he figured would strengthen his core muscles and help him in his quest to play basketball to age 50. A few years back, after he ruptured that Achilles tendon playing for a BBL championship, he called Nurse with a request.

“I think he was, like, 41 years old when he said, ‘You’ve got to help me with my shooting.’ I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ he said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to shoot better,’” says Nurse, who spent part of a summer tuning up Flournoy’s jumper.

Flournoy, remembering those times in the gym with Nurse, laughed in acknowledgment of his obsessive streak. This is a man, according to the New York Times, who once engaged in a two-year research project to find the perfect shave (and after trying myriad razors, was finally sold on a Japanese-made feather blade). This is a man who abstains from alcohol save for one day a year — the anniversary of his brother’s death, when he drinks whiskey in remembrance. This is a man who, as player-coach in Newcastle, was known to occasionally preside over video sessions that stretched beyond four hours. In other words, don’t call him Fabulous. Try perfectionist.

“The only thing that controls your future is your present,” Flournoy says. “We don’t know how much time we have. You have to take advantage of it. And I’m not speaking dark. That’s just life. That’s how life is set up. You don’t know when your time is going to come. And you never know when that phone call is going to come. You never know when that Nick Nurse is going to give you an opportunity.”

Dave Feschuk is a Toronto-based sports columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @dfeschuk

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