I'll bet you haven't been to Makongo Secondary School on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Either East Africa is out of your way or you were discouraged when you found AK-47s at the entrance.
Well, Makongo is where Hasheem Thabeet began his journey to beat Ricky Rubio in the 2009 draft, and luckily for us, Nathan Stormzand toured the campus on September 10.
On his tour, Stormzand learned that Hasheem Thabeet wanted to quit basketball 30 minutes into his first practice.
The coach at Makongo (now deceased) told Thabeet "pole, pole" which translates literally to "slowly, slowly" and is also an idiom that means "You're 7'3."
When Stormzand arrived at Makongo, he was greeted by armed guards with AK-47s protecting Makongo's stockpile of future second string centers.
Like anyone in this situation, Stormzand announced that he was reporting for one of the top Memphis Grizzlies fan blogs and was quickly introduced to Makongo's Headmaster (Mr. Silus M.), PE Teacher (Mr. Kapanda), and Athletic Director (Mr. Bogoyu).
|This is one of five photos that Stormzand was not required to delete. Please do not use it to sabotage the school.|
Surprisingly, the school officials were happy to talk at length about Tanzania's most famous Twitterer.
They told Stormzand that Thabeet transferred to Makongo because of it's academic reputation. However, when Thabeet arrived, he was already taller than any other student or teacher. As a result, Makongo, whose Alumni play basketball, soccer, and volleyball professionally around the world, quickly researched sports where height is an advantage.
|This is what "Cooler than Memphis" looks like.|
Though Makongo's team was never great while Thabeet played, Thabeet steadily improved, according to the Athletic director, and by the end of his time at Makonga, Thabeet was asked to play for a regional team in Kenya.
A few years later, UConn posters hang on the walls of the Headmaster's office.
|Makongo staff consistently allowed Stormzand to keep pictures of this hoop.|
As Stormzand left Makongo, the school officials asked Stormzand to sign the guest book and to please send basketballs when he returned to the US.
As Stormzand signed his name, he saw Thabeet's signature from a visit three weeks earlier. As part of Thabeet's campaign for Unintentional Comedy All-NBA First Team, Thabeet listed Springfield, MA as his home.
|You can see that the rough surface of the court slowed the development of Thabeet's ball-handling skills.|
Nathan Stormzand would like to thank the entire staff of Makongo for being far too forthcoming, a shady yet entrepreneurial taxi driver named Idi for conveying him safely around Dar, and ketchup-sized packages of Konyagi for inspiriation.