CLINTON - It started out as a fun break from classes, as two members of the Court Jesters basketball squad met with Clinton High School students Friday afternoon in the gym. First, there were basketball tricks and some interactive games. Then there was also a serious message: Stay in school, reach your goals and stay away from drugs.
The Court Jesters, a comedy basketball squad reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters, were scheduled for a performance at St. John's Gym later in the day. But, first, Andy Eckman and Sayeed Abdul "Rainbow" Muntaqim spent some time at the school, having fun.
Muntaqim has been playing comedy basketball for 31 years, traveling to 46 states and 19 different countries. After bringing down ninth-grader Richard Zenon for some trick shots, and playing an interactive round-robin game, first with student volunteers, then with teachers drafted from the sidelines, Muntaqim got a little serious.
"Even in other countries, where there is a language problem, you can bring smiles through comedy basketball," Muntaqim said. "Our message is not just about basketball. Basketball is just the smallest part of what we are about."
Muntaqim said everyone has challenges to overcome.
"The best and most important thing you can be is an educated student at the highest level you can," Muntaqim said. "Without education, you can't be a success at life."
Muntaqim said setting and achieving goals is important.
"Teachers have their goals and they are different than your goals. My goals are different than your goals. When we were sitting where you are, we had different goals," he said. "Don't think for a split second you don't have to be educated. If you have a goal, it doesn't matter how or when you reach it, just reach it."
He said the message to stay away from drugs and alcohol sounds cliche.
"No one sitting here knows what drugs and alcohol will do to you," Muntaqim said. "Keep your dreams and goals in sight. Keep them simple, so when you conquer then, you get excited and set new goals. Don't let a bad decision be your deciding moment."