While watching Kim Chambers in action the past seven years, from his time as girls basketball coach at Augusta Preparatory Day School to his current stint with the Harlem High School boys basketball team, I've noticed he's gone through some changes.
Chambers is a bit thicker around the middle these days, and now I know why.
The man's got guts.
With his Bulldogs battling to earn a second-straight trip to the state playoffs, Chambers made a statement that was more significant than winning or losing a basketball game.
On Feb. 5, he dismissed senior point guard David Green from the team.
"I bent over backward to let him know that improper behavior and violation of team rules would result in some discipline," Chambers said. "He just didn't show up for our game on Tuesday night (Feb. 4). That afternoon I told him if he wasn't at the game, he wouldn't be with us any more."
Green wasn't a bench warmer. He was leading Harlem in scoring, assists and steals this season. But after he missed the key Region 3-AAAA game against Josey, his high school career abruptly ended.
Chambers made the decision, and accepted the repercussions.
"We may not win another game this year," he said, shortly after dumping Green, "but I won't put up with this kind of stuff, or I'll be dealing with it every year."
As it turned out, Harlem didn't win another game. The Dogs lost the regular-season finale to Laney, and fell to Westside last week in the Region 3-AAA tournament at Cross Creek.
For Chambers, winning is important, but character is paramount.
"I'm trying to teach these kids things that will carry throughout their life," he said. "If you miss work, your boss says you're fired. They need to learn the importance of responsibility now, because if they don't it will effect their family later. I would be hurting them if I didn't teach those lessons."
Greenbrier Wolfpack basketball coach Garrett Black can relate. His father Danny Black finished a long-time career as a high school basketball coach last year, but the lessons remain.
"There were times I questioned some of the things he did discipline-wise, but now I understand what he was doing and why he did it," Garrett Black said.
Black doesn't question why Chambers would boot a star player off the squad and seemingly scuttle Harlem's state playoff chances.
"A lot of people will rush to judgment and have no clue to what has happened," Black said. "As a coach, you have to ignore that and do what's right.
"I have a lot of respect for what Kim did. Harlem has been playing good basketball the last three years, and a lot of that is because of Kim and the discipline he brings to the program."
The little things a coach does ultimately make a high school basketball program successful. For Chambers, there is no difference between a superstar and the 12th man on the team - they all must play by the rules.
It's called "collective responsibility." And that's no little thing.
"I'm not backing down," Chambers said after giving Green the heave-ho. "The players understand what's expected of them. We want to win, but reaching goals is all about teamwork."
Yes, Chambers is wearing a larger pants size these days, but in my eyes he's grown in stature as well.
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