DREAMSCAPE: Chris Silva fulfills lifelong quest, enjoys NBA rookie season with Miami Heat
Some days Chris Silva stands on the balcony of his high-rise apartment in downtown Miami and peers right, over the rollerbladers below and past American Airlines Arena. He gazes over Bayside Marina, beyond the docked cruise ships and out onto the horizon.
Somewhere in the distance lies his past, in Gabon, Africa, where he was an unknown youth with untapped potential — on the basketball court and in life — and a dream.
Read more here.
At IPZ, diversity of clients — and sectors represented — always is on display
How Warren-based agency continues to represent athletes, entertainers from around the world during coronavirus crisis
The diversity of clients the agency represents is worth noting. And it’s not just having basketball, baseball and soccer stars along with mixed martial arts competitors. Or a Ukranian actress, bilingual Hispanic TV personality from Colombia and a voice-over specialist from Florida.
No, it’s the total mixture of sports and entertainment that makes Warren-based IPZ different, founder and Managing Partner Bob Zito said. And he said he wouldn’t have it any other way…
Read the full story here.
Pat Andree to be Represented by IPZ
Pat Andree, an All-ACC Academic Team selection at North Carolina State University and one the NCAA’s Elite 3-Point shooters, has signed with IPZ, Andree and IPZ announced today.
The six-foot-eight stretch 4 power forward comes from Colts Neck, N.J., and Christian Brothers Academy, one of New Jersey’s perennial high school powerhouse programs, where he became the school’s leading scorer, breaking the 40-year-old record set by Bob Roma.
From CBA, Andree went to Lehigh University, starting in multiple games as a freshman on a senior-laden team that went to the Patriot League championship game. During his freshman season with the Mountain Hawks, Andree broke onto the national scene with an ESPN Top Ten performance, scoring a career-high 30 points against Saint Francis (Pa.). In that game, Andree made 10 threes (on 12 attempts) to set a school record.
During his sophomore season, Andree started in 29 of 30 games, averaging 12.6 points and shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range (79-184), helping the Mountain Hawks to the Patriot League Semi-Finals. Andree tormented league opponents as a match-up nightmare, stretching the floor as the league’s top Frontcourt 3-Point shooter, shooting 48.7% (55-113) from behind the arc in league play. He was 4th overall in the league in 3-point shooting, and 23rd in the nation, reaching double figures in 21 games and adding 5.8 rebounds per game. He was named First team All-Academic Patriot League.
During his junior season at Lehigh, Andree led the team in rebounds, was named to the Academic All-Patriot League team for the second straight season and had double-figure points in 22 of 29 games. He averaged 12.9 points and 6.2 rebounds and shot better than 42 percent from behind the arc in his final two seasons with the Mountain Hawks.
He was named to the Patriot League Honor Roll each year as a student-athlete during his tenure at Lehigh, graduating in three-years, and earning a degree in Psychology in May 2019.
At NC State, as a graduate transfer, Andree was named to the All-ACC Academic team, despite suffering an ankle injury versus Clemson in the 16th game of the season. Until that point in the season, he was averaging 9.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 22 minutes per game, starting in four of those games. He had shot 48% (23 of 48) from behind the three-point line up to that point in the season and was ranked among the top 5 in the ACC.
In the opening game of the season against Georgia Tech, Andree started for the Wolfpack scoring 12 points and pulling down 8 rebounds in his ACC debut. Against Florida Int’l, with the Wolfpack down 12 points in the first half, he came off the bench to score 14 consecutive points in under three minutes, including a 4-for-4 stretch from 3-point land to spark North Carolina State a runaway victory. On the road against UNC Wilmington, Andree knocked down 5-of-7 three-point attempts to lift the Wolfpack to a one-point Quad 1 win while surpassing 1,000 career points in NCAA-Division 1 play.
After knocking down a crucial 3-point shot versus Syracuse on the road, Andree suffered an injury to his ankle and his play was limited during the remainder of the season.
“Pat is a terrific young man and he was a great addition to our program,” said North Carolina State head basketball coach Kevin Keatts. “He is an elite-level shooter who has an incredible knowledge of the game. He also has a strong work ethic and is a fantastic teammate. Pat’s presence will make any locker room better and I believe he has a long professional career in front of him.”
“Patrick is not just an outstanding athlete, he is an amazing young man who has a tremendous basketball IQ and will only excel in the future,” said IPZ Managing Partner Robert Zito. “He has fully recovered from the ankle injury that impacted his season at NC State, and will be an asset to a professional team moving forward.”
“I had a great experience at North Carolina State, following my three-years at Lehigh,” said Andree. “I was so excited to play in the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, but the COVID-19 pandemic robbed everyone of that dream this year. I was pleased to have garnered the interest of several agents as my desire to continue to play basketball as a professional is strong and I am seriously committed to further developing my game. I feel very fortunate to have joined the IPZ family and proud to have their team of professionals helping me.”
Alexey Oleynik Set To Take On Next Opponent In UFC 250…
Alexey Oleynik signs his fight contract with Sam Masucci, CEO of ETF Managers Group, his sponsor. Photo by Jim Salzano.
While he has continued to train for his May 9 fight against former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, IPZ’s Alexey Oleynik is still awaiting confirmation about the site for what will be one of UFC’s biggest ever events.
“It has been frustrating, but I understand everyone’s safety is the most important concern,” Oleynik said. “Keeping my family safe and the safety of our UFC fans has to be the key.”
The star-studded card was announced this week.
“I welcome the fight against Werdum,” said Oleynik. “When the fight can eventually happen, we will put on a good show. And don’t bet against me.”
Known as the “Boa Constrictor,” Oleynik has a record of 58-13-1 and won his last fight, against Maurice Greene with a second round submission.
Oleg Prudius Puts “Miami Heat” on Hold Amidst COVID-19
Oleg Prudius was two weeks away from completing shooting on the new movie, Miami Heat, when the coronavirus shut down filming in Miami.
“It was unfortunate, but we all understand the need to save lives,” said Prudius.
Miami Heat stars Prudius as a dad who searches for his daughter after she is abducted by a ruthless sex trafficking ring.
“I have to kill the bad guys,” Oleg said with a laugh. “Easy for me to do.”
Supporting the FDNY and First Responders
Our IPZ family knows I serve as the vice-chair of the FDNY Foundation. These past five weeks have been especially hard on our first responders, including those in the FDNY, both firefighters and EMS personnel.
Thanks to Bill Schwartz, CEO and founding partner of Vector Media, and a fellow FDNY Foundation Board member, New Yorkers are being reminded that our first responders need our support now.
Thanks Bill. And thanks to the members of the FDNY who are working around the clock to help New York…and first responders around the country who are on the front lines in fighting this pandemic.
For more information or to contribute, please visit www.fdnyfoundation.org
Emily Clayton Joins IPZ as Client Sponsorships Manager
Emily Clayton has joined IPZ as Client Sponsorships Manager, effective April 1.
A 2018 graduate of The University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, and Specialization in Sport and Entertainment Management, Emily worked in the Corporate Partnerships department for the Miami Heat during Dwyane Wade’s final season. After the 2018-19 basketball season, she transitioned to the agency side of sports and entertainment management as an event coordinator at Octagon.
A North Carolina native and resident, Emily is a certified personal trainer, as well as a certified nutrition coach.
“I look forward to working with IPZ’s clients in their endeavors outside of their chosen sport or media,” Clayton said. “With new technological advances and social media platforms, I know each of our clients will find a niche tailored to their own interests. It’s my job to help them find those opportunities.”
“In her first few weeks, Emily has brought enthusiasm, out-of-the-box thinking and a disciplined approach to her role that we hope pays dividends for our clients,” said IPZ Managing Partner, Robert Zito. “Best of all, she doesn’t hesitate to pick up the phone call and call people – sometimes a missing talent with today’s young professionals.”
Bob Hurley remembers when St. Anthony played against Kobe Bryant, Lower Merion
By Dan Canova
Bob Hurley remembers it like it was yesterday.
When St. Anthony traveled down to Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia during the 1995-96 high school basketball season to take on Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant was the No. 1 senior player in the entire country.
Prior to the game, a former scout from the Boston Celtics went over to Hurley and asked for his thoughts on the 17-year-old, who in just a few months would be drafted into the NBA and end up being one of the greatest players to walk the face of the Earth.
“I was just telling him how I thought he was a tremendous player,” Hurley recalled. “He was so versatile and poised… But I had no idea that he was going to be this great. I could only see that he would have been a really good player in college. But I couldn’t see at 17 years old, by the time he was 19 or 20, what was apparent to everybody.”
Hurley then went into the locker room to share with his team that NBA scouts were at the game to see Bryant play. St. Anthony was without its two best players at the time, Anthony Perry and Rashon Burno, due to missing school and practice the previous day. And since it was a day before the game, if you didn’t practice, you didn’t play.
Even without Burno and Perry, St. Anthony held a halftime lead and eventually pulled out a 15-point victory over Lower Merion, despite 28 points from Bryant. But it was after the game, what Hurley remembered most about Bryant.
“I thought the really nice thing was after the game ended, he asked me if the two of us could sit down and talk,” Hurley said. “And he just wanted me to go over the things that I saw with him, and the things that I thought he needed to get better at.
“When the second half started, we were up one point, and I didn’t think he had everybody ready for the second half of the game,” he added. “We jumped into a 10-point lead. I told him that he should have been all over his team in a dead-even game to win the first four minutes of the third quarter. He came out and played terrific, but he didn’t have the rest of them fired up. So, we got up 10 and maintained that the rest of the game. He thanked me and I told him to keep doing everything he’s doing.”
The previous year, Lower Merion actually made the trip up to Jersey City, and the Friars hosted Bryant as a junior at the No. 28 school in the Heights, which at the time was St. Anthony’s home court.
Hurley said it was unusual because when an out-of-state team would play St. Anthony, the Friars would normally go to them first, and then the following year the opposing team would say they have a scheduling conflict, and they couldn’t make the trip to Jersey City. But Lower Merion’s head coach Gregg Downer called up Hurley and said that they wanted to come up and play in Bryant’s junior year, only if they agreed to go down to Philadelphia for his senior season.
Hurley recalled that “a normal crowd was at the game, and nobody knew that a tremendous talent was in Jersey City that night.” Bryant ended up with 35 points and was phenomenal, according to Hurley.
“In my own household, my wife didn’t think Kobe was that good because we beat them twice in a row,” Hurley said. “And she felt that he should have been able to beat us on his own, which I thought was a little disrespectful to our team because we won the Tournament of Champions both in ’95 and ’96. We had two really good teams with eight or nine kids that ended up playing at the college level.”
When Hurley was at his Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2010, Bryant was there for the Los Angeles Lakers late great owner Jerry Buss, who was also inducted. Hurley recalls due to the madness of that night, he didn’t even know Bryant was there, but he would have loved to share a few minutes with him and just talk to him.
On Sunday afternoon, Hurley was just minutes into his drive leaving UConn’s Harry A. Gampel Pavilion after watching his son Danny coach the Huskies, and he received a call from Danny’s wife, Andrea, with the heartbreaking news that Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who had died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
“Things happen in life, but for three different families to be decimated with this, the effects that it’s going to have on the remaining family members, it’s just something we are going to remember for a long time,” Hurley said. “In its own way, when John Kennedy died in the plane crash, and the biggest one in my life the assassination of John F. Kennedy, this is up there with them. I’ll remember this the rest of my life. On the ride home from UConn, we turned on the radio because we had hours on the way back from the game. And as you piece together all of the information, it was just tragedy.”
View the story on NJ.com.
Inside the surprise that had Heat’s Chris Silva thinking he was ‘seeing a ghost’
By Anthony Chiang
Basketball worked to separate Chris Silva from his family. Seven years later, basketball helped to reunite Silva and his family.
A native of Gabon, Africa, Silva left his home country in 2012 just days away from turning 16 to come to the United States with a dream of making it to the NBA. Silva, now 23, had seen his parents and three brothers only once since then, and that was when he returned to Gabon for two weeks to renew his visa as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.
But just hours prior to Friday’s home win over the Pacers, the Heat, the NBA and NBA Africa teamed up to surprise Silva with his mother, Carine Minkoue Obame, following the team’s walkthrough. It marked the first time he had seen his mother in three years.
Silva, who is playing on a two-way contract with the Heat, was caught completely off guard.
“As a matter of fact, I talked to her like two days ago and she was still back home on Christmas,” Silva said in advance of Saturday’s Heat matchup against the 76ers at AmericanAirlines Arena. “We were just talking, catching up and all that. I saw right after the walkthrough, I saw her walking in and I couldn’t believe who it was. I thought I was seeing a ghost. After I realized it was her, I couldn’t help myself. I was emotional.
“This is a great league. For them to do something like that for me means a great deal. It shows the heart of the people running the league and NBA Africa. I just thank them, I’m grateful for them doing this.”
The Heat documented the surprise. The video showed a shocked Silva as his mother walked onto the AmericanAirlines Arena court, with teammates and coaches huddled around him. It unfolded like this:
“The holidays also are really about being around the people you love, and mostly everybody feels very grateful that you’re able to spend that quality time,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to the team in the video, setting up the surprise for Silva.
“But I always think about Silva,” Spoelstra went on to say. “When was the last time you saw your family?”
“Three years ago,” Silva answered.
“We have a great surprise for you,” Spoelstra said. “Merry Christmas, brother.”
That’s when Silva’s mom walked through the tunnel and onto the court.
“That’s my mom!” Silva said in the video, seemingly in disbelief moments after realizing it was his mother and quickly bursting into tears.
Following Friday’s game, Spoelstra called it “one of the most special moments I’ve been a part of in this profession.”
“This has been in the works for about a month and I was so nervous bringing the group together,” Spoelstra said. “… To be a part of it as an organization, to be able to make this happen with the NBA and to be able to experience and have Chris experience this moment, it was really incredible. And hearing the gasps and the responses from his teammates is something I’ll keep with me for a long time.”
Heat wing Jimmy Butler said of Silva’s moment: “That’s love right there. Family is everything and that will always be bigger than basketball. For his mom to be here is special. He has been away from her for so long and he’s working incredibly hard. … I hope that they stay up all night and talk about what they missed over these past three years.”
When Silva first arrived to the United States from Gabon in 2012, he didn’t speak English and had never been on an airplane before the long trip. Once Silva made it to the United States, he attended and played basketball at Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey before playing four college seasons at South Carolina.
At first, the transition to the United States was a tough one.
“Coming here and not knowing anybody, speaking no English, it was a challenge at first,” said Silva, who did not play in Friday’s win. “Basketball just helped me get through all of this, get away from those sad moments. It definitely helped me get through all of this. Basketball then made my family come here, I’m just grateful for this game.”
Spoelstra remembers when Silva revealed his story to the team during training camp in early October. While Spoelstra didn’t know much about Silva’s background before the Heat signed him as an undrafted free agent this past offseason, he learned a lot about Silva in that moment.
“Back in training camp, one of the nights, one of our sessions, some of the young guys told their stories to the team and Chris’ story stood out,” Spoelstra said. “Incredible bravery on his part to be able to come to a new country, didn’t speak the language, didn’t know anybody, to chase a dream. We feel that we’re a place where we can make dreams happen. But I had goosebumps. Everybody has goosebumps when he was telling that story. Then to fast track three months to be able to be a part of something like this is something I’ll take with me for the rest of my career.”
Silva entered Saturday averaging 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 9.5 minutes in 25 games with the Heat this season. With two-way contract players allowed to spend up to 45 days in the NBA during the G League season and the rest of the time with their team’s G League affiliate, Silva has yet to be sent down to the developmental league.
The Heat will have enough room under the hard cap to convert Silva’s two-way contract to a standard NBA contract starting Jan. 14, and Silva has enough two-way days available to play in every one of Miami’s games before then. The Heat has an open roster spot with just 14 players currently under standard deals.
If Silva has his two-way deal converted to a standard NBA contract, that will be another memorable day. But Friday stands alone.
“Today has been crazy,” Silva said. “From seeing my mom and catching a good win, all that, it’s crazy. I’m shook.”
Silva will have his mother with him for the next 10 days. And he can’t wait to spend time with her.
“I don’t know much about Miami, but I’m going to find out about Miami,” Silva said. “I’m going to try to take her out to dinner to some nice places and spend a lot of time with her.”
View the full story on Miami Herald.
Heat rookie Chris Silva’s motivation? Family and the dream to one day be reunited.
By Anthony Chiang
Running can be symbolic of so many things.
For Heat forward Chris Silva, running is symbolic of his unique journey and hope to one day be reunited with his family.
The undrafted rookie describes himself as more of the long-distance type who is known for his two-mile runs following basketball workouts. Silva prefers to run on a track or any circular path.
That’s where the symbolism comes in.
“It just unblocks my head. All I think about is making it,” Silva said of running. “There’s something about it. I like to do a circle because when I get tired in a circle, I know I can’t stop here. I have to finish to get back to the house.”
Playing under a two-way contract with the Heat, Silva (6-8, 234 pounds) is currently on his own circular path trying to make it back home to his family. He’s averaging 4.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18 games in his first NBA season.
A native of Gabon, Africa, Silva left his home country in 2012 just days away from turning 16 to come to the United States with a dream of making it to the NBA. He has seen his parents and siblings only once since then, and that was when he returned to Gabon for two weeks to renew his visa as a sophomore at the University of South Carolina.
“Two weeks felt like two days, to be honest,” said Silva, 23, of his lone trip back to Africa to visit his mother, father and three brothers. “I don’t think anybody besides my uncle has ever seen me play basketball.”
Silva’s uncle, Miguel, will watch him play again Wednesday when the Heat faces the Celtics at TD Garden. The Heat (14-5) begins a challenging back-to-back set Tuesday against the Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.
Miguel, who is Silva’s legal guardian, lives in Boston and is one of Silva’s only relatives in the United States. The two have been through a lot together.
Miguel stayed up all night to track the four different flights Silva took to first arrive to the United States from Gabon. Silva didn’t speak English and had never been on an airplane before that long trek, with Miguel worried he would get lost along the way.
Once Silva made it to the United States to attend and play basketball at Roselle Catholic High in New Jersey, there were tough times Miguel had to talk Silva through. Silva was homesick almost immediately.
“He felt lonely. He wanted to see his mom, his dad,” Miguel recalls. “But he couldn’t make it. I remember at some point, the high school told me he had been down and they wanted to send him home to see his family. I said, ‘No, I’m going to talk to him because he just got here.’ I didn’t want him to want to go back right away.”
Miguel told Silva: “It’s a struggle, I understand. You feel lonely. I also got to the point after three months that I wanted to go back home, too. You’re going to be fine. You got good people who love you.”
Now, Miguel sends daily updates to their family in Gabon regarding Silva’s accomplishments — from being voted onto the SEC’s All-Defensive team in each of his final two seasons at South Carolina to playing for the Heat as an undrafted rookie.
While attending the Heat’s Oct. 23 season opener against the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena, Miguel sent a short video to the family of Heat public address announcer Michael Baiamonte introducing Silva when he entered his first regular-season NBA game.
“I have to update the family pretty much every day,” Miguel said. “They try to watch him play online, but the internet is so messed up over there. Now they have WhatsApp, so I can take a picture or record a video and send it to them.”
The time change also makes it difficult for Silva’s family to watch any of his games. A 7:30 p.m. Heat home game begins at 1:30 a.m. in Gabon.
“It’s a luxury to have cable in Gabon, especially to have those channels for those games,” Miguel said.
Silva has grown accustomed to going through life on his own, though. It has been seven years since he arrived in the United States.
“After spending all these years doing it by myself, I kind of got a hang of it,” Silva said. “But it would be nice. I don’t want to say being away from them is difficult, but it would be nice once something is hard or I have a good game to go home and see my mom. Talk to somebody in the family.”
View the full story on Miami Herald.