When we talk about the NBA All-Star weekend, it’s usually in relation to how the Saturday Three-Point Contest might be the best event of the three days, or whether Kevin Durant deserves his roster spot.
But for the city where the All-Star Game arrives it is much more than that.
Wherever the game lands the NBA focuses its charity (NBA Cares) and youth outreach efforts, looking to make a difference in the community. However, in New York this year the NBA has stepped up its game:
They will reach 1 million youth in the five boroughs with their program.
The most visible of that is the 100 basketball and fitness clinics in New York schools on Feb. 13, part of the NBA All-Star FIT Celebration on NBA FIT Friday. At every school there will be NBA All-Stars or WNBA players or NBA legends working to engage the youth. Shrug if you want, but trust me as the father of three elementary school age daughters health and fitness issues among our youth is a serious issue, you see it on every campus. There’s good reason it’s the First Lady’s pet project. That this program uses basketball to reach and teach children is fantastic.
This is just part of the league’s outreach.
Also on Friday several NBA All-Stars and celebrity chef Mario Batali (who still should be an Iron Chef in my book) will assist food rescue organization City Harvest to pack 160,000 pounds of food that will be distributed to 10,000 New Yorkers in need.
And the list of outreach events goes on and on, they started way back in September and will continue after the All-Star players have packed up and gone home.
It’s just one side of the All-Star Game that a lot of people miss, but in terms of impact in the community it can be more lasting than the big hoops exhibition itself.