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NBA great to speak at Vail Valley high school banquet

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Valley: The Battle Mountain Boys Basketball program will celebrate its best season in years with a banquet featuring NBA Hall-of-Famer David Thompson
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VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –The Battle Mountain Boys Basketball program will celebrate its best season in years with a banquet featuring NBA Hall-of-Famer David Thompson.

Thompson will be the guest speaker at the 6:30 p.m. dinner on this Wednesday at the Westin Hotel ballroom in Avon. The evening will recognize the achievements of this year’s varsity, junior varsity and C team players. Prior to this year, the varsity Huskies had been in a slump, winning only seven games in three years, and this year they earned a spot in the state play-offs with 12 wins.

Thompson, who played for the Denver Nuggets from 1975 to 1982 and the Seattle Supersonics from 1982-1984, was a college star at North Carolina State University. He was named college player of the year, ABA rookie of the year and NBA all star game MVP. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on May 6, 1996.



Currently a motivational speaker, Thompson was known as “Skywalker” (which is also the name of his autobiography) because of his 48-inch vertical leap.

Despite his talent and success, Thompson’s life and career collapsed under the weight of his alcohol and drug use. Sober since 1988, Thompson offers young people guidance on how to realize their life goals by having humility, holding on to values and reaching out for help.



Battle Mountain head coach Tommy Padilla, who just completed his first season with the team, said his players deserve very special recognition at this year’s banquet.

“This program endured three losing seasons, but this year they turned it around,” Padilla said. “They bought into my system of developing a program around the talents and athleticism of the kids we had. They are very athletic, quick and smart.”

Padilla said the strategy of a quick tempo offense and a hard defense worked for these players.



“The seniors have planted a seed and shown the younger upcoming players in the program that if they play hard and trust my program, we have nowhere to go but up,” he said. “The seniors set our foundation. I just wish I could have had more years with them.”

Local physician Gary Weiss, who founded the nonprofit Action for Children, selected the Battle Mountain boys’ basketball players for participation in programs for building self-esteem and confidence on and off the court. Action for Children arranged for the boys to work with NBA pros and coaches as well as sports psychologists and motivational trainers.

This year’s banquet is sponsored by Action for Children. Film highlights from Thompson’s amazing career as well as a film by American Buffalo Productions about the Huskies’ turn-around season will also be shown. Members of the public who want to meet Thompson and hear him speak may purchase tickets to the event by calling 970-477-2800. Reservations for dinner are required in advance.


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