NBA All-Stars reach out to local communities


Posted on February 16, 2014 at 4:14 AM

Updated Sunday, Feb 16 at 4:20 AM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News

Email: / Twitter: @JKelleyWWL

New Orleans, La. -- NBA greats, past and present, have descended on New Orleans for this year’s All-Star game. But, these athletes aren’t just here to play ball and have fun. They’re here to give back.

The basketball team at Riverdale High School got a surprise of a lifetime. Not only did the team get to meet an idol, Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade, but they got to see their new locker-room for the first time since its amazing makeover.

“We were down here in New Orleans trying to find the school that really had the need,” says Wade. “Looking at locker-rooms, taking pictures of locker-rooms… This was the worst one, and we felt that team deserves a better locker-room.”

Just across the river, Wade’s long time friend and teammate, Lebron James, took some time out of his day to present The Boys and Girls Club in Gretna with a brand new basketball gym.

The charitable giving did not stop there. For the sixth year in a row, Kenny Smith and his foundation, Aim High, partnered with Feed the Children. Smith helped feed 1,200 families in need, giving each of them enough food to last a week

“Aim High foundation partnered with Feed the Children for the sixth year now,” Smith says. “Groceries, toiletries, we are doing haircuts, nails, health care. It’s just a day to say, hey – we are not just here to put on a show for All-Star weekend. We are here to make a lasting impression.”

Over at Oliver Bush Playground, kids got to meet and learn from NBA legends like retired player Johnny Newman. “Someone reached out to us when we were coming up trying to be players,” Newman says. “And, when we became players, we continued to help the community.”

Councilman James Grey also believes what these players contribute to our communities can be life-changing. “The important thing is that the kids all over the city know that we care about them,” says Councilman Grey, “That there are people concerned about their well-being.”

 Robert Pack, who grew up in the 9th Ward, was even on hand to give some pointers before coaching his first All-Star game come Sunday. “That’s the best part of this weekend for me,” Pack says, “To be back here on this playground, where I grew up playing on.”

 The good-will, on behalf of the NBA, continues tomorrow with Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans leading a basketball workshop for local kids.