Intramural Basketball League (IBL) Commissioner Ishmael Freelon is stepping down more than a decade after he co-founded the league. He hopes that whoever replaces him can handle the responsibility.
“I’m stepping down as commissioner because it’s just time to move on,” said Freelon.
The commissioner is not pointing a finger at anybody. He just does not feel like being responsible for the league anymore. He said that the challenges of leading the league have changed over the years.
“I’m tired of dealing with guys who may still have that prison mentality that they came to prison with. It’s a lot of new people here at the prison and some guys never had any structure of the rules. Back in the day when guys like Anthony ‘Half-Man Half-Amazon’ Ammons were here, guys like him had different attitudes and were teachable. There are still some guys here with some good attitudes, though, but new guys (are) coming to the prison and that’s the possible challenge,” said Freelon.
Over the years, many of the league’s players had to be traded and some have even quit. Despite all the ups and downs, Freelon still said that the “league was a success.”
“I’m getting older and I might not have the vigor in dealing with the new round of people here at the prison,” Freelon said. “I still want them to get the opportunity to experience the good of playing the top sport here at the prison.”
A prospect to replace Freelon as commissioner is Jamal “Dr. J” Green. He hopes to get the opportunity to change the face of the league.
“I plan to change the league and bring teammates together because it’s more than just basketball we are playing,” Green said. “I want to show the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) that it’s more than just groups that help us. I plan to be that good example for the youth to emulate, on and off the court. On the court we build character and other personal growth that helps us in our rehabilitation.”
Green was one of Freelon’s top choices among potential replacements. He saw special qualities in Green’s personal development over the years.
But Freelon’s choice must be approved by a league committee. General Manager Brian Asey hopes that whoever takes the commissioner’s position will inspire San Quentin’s new athletes and young players to play with the same enthusiasm as those who played before them.
“Because those who have since paroled are living good productive lives,” said Asey. “The ball we play in here is more than just basketball. It’s about the relationships we make with those we meet who take time out of their lives to come in here to support us. We don’t ever want to take that for granted.”
Jamaal “Do It All” Harrison supports Green becoming the next commissioner. He said that over the years he and Green have become good friends. Harrison said that Green is dedicated to the sport and he would be a good choice.
Commissioner Freelon said that whoever takes his place will have a huge responsibility. But the character that the job builds is worth the responsibility it demands.
“I learned that communication is the key. Listening to others is the foundation. Meet people where they are at. Because some people are struggling with finding out who they are as a person. Sacrifice your time and be willing to hear people. Because we all have something to give. We have something that others can use. Know that there is no room for big ‘Is’ and little ‘Us.’ I learned that as commissioner you have to have thick skin because you will be tested,” said Freelon.