The NBA Day of Service is an annual mainstay of the All-Star weekend, but did you know it started in 2008 right here in NOLA? For the 2005 and 2006 seasons, the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) were displaced due to Hurricane Katrina and played their home games in Oklahoma City. The Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation worked with team ownership to convince the NBA to “take a chance” (at the time) on New Orleans and become the first mega sporting event awarded to the Crescent City post-Katrina. The NBA was seeking to do more than just bring the event to New Orleans.
Thus, the NBA Day of Service was created as a then one-time project for 2008 All-Star only, and the focused would be on three areas – Learn, Live and Play.
After deliberating potential project options, the NBA narrowed it down to 10 homes, playgrounds, schools and community centers, many of which remained untouched following Hurricane Katrina.
The NBA devised a voiced-over invitation from Bob Lanier to all guests to participate. The response to participate was overwhelming, with more than 3,000 current and former players, team owners and executives, coaches and Commissioner David Stern lending a hand that rainy day.
Afterwards, the NBA received incredible feedback from the participants as well as those New Orleans residents on the receiving end of their kindness. Because the response was so positive, the Day of Service has become a permanent fixture at All-Star and remains a model for other major events, including the Super Saturday of Service (organized by the Sports Foundation) for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The NBA will continue the leagues tradition of community service during 2017 NBA All-Star by extending their generosity throughout Louisiana.
On Wednesday, February 15th the NBA Cares program will visit members of the Baton Rouge Community who were affected by historic flooding in August 2016. NBA and WNBA players/legends will join youth and law enforcement from the Baton Rouge Community for a basketball court dedication, basketball clinic and a Building Bridges through Basketball workshop focused on strengthening the ties between law enforcement and the community.
The following day, the NBA All-Star Fit Celebration will take place at five elementary schools in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes. The basketball and fitness clinics will focus on the importance of healthy living while teaching the fundamentals of the game.
One of the schools scheduled to host NBA activities will be Fannie C. Williams Charter school. Located in New Orleans East, an area recently effected by the February 7th tornado. The NBA and Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation are working together to develop programing and donations to benefit those effected by the storm.