Operation Hardwood enlightened and inspired

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- In my college basketball world, "heroes" are guys who make last-second shots or game-winning defensive plays. However, this week in the Kuwaiti desert, I saw the real heroes, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. Although most of us are not affected directly by the ongoing war in Iraq and might give it only a passing thought each day, being here at Camp Arifjan has been an enlightening experience as we visited with some of the most dedicated, motivated and resilient young people.

Eight current and former college basketball coaches were here, ostensibly, to lift the morale of the troops as part of Operation Hardwood IV: Hoops for Troops, a basketball tournament for soldiers from the various bases around Kuwait. This brainchild of marketing executive Rick Kell, with help from the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment, was meant to bring a slice of life from back home to the men and women here. In the process, it has been our morale that has been lifted and we who have been inspired.