Monday, 22 Jul 2024

How Cleveland, HBCU communities benefit from 2022 All-Star weekend

When it comes to celebrating milestone anniversaries, there is a strong connection between the NBA and the city of Cleveland. NBA All-Star is back in “The Land” for the third time after Cleveland hosted the league’s midseason celebration of the game in both 1981 and ’97 — the NBA’s 35th and 50th anniversary seasons.

Twenty-five years later, the NBA is celebrating its 75th anniversary in Cleveland. As part of the festivities, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) will work alongside local community organizations to provide programming and support that focus on youth, education, health equity, food insecurity, and economic inclusion.

NBA HBCU Classic and Empowering the Next Generation

The league will also uplift the HBCU community as part of the weekend and empower the next generation of leaders. On Saturday, the men’s basketball teams from Howard University and Morgan State University will meet in the first-ever NBA HBCU Classic presented by AT&T. This historic event will be simulcast on TNT, ESPN2, and NBA TV and will include donations of $100,000 to each university to support the student experience.

“I applaud the NBA for recognizing the contributions of HBCUs and their graduates to our society and by providing a platform like the one they’re providing on February 19,” said Kery Davis, Director of Athletics at Howard University. “It’s important because many people who know nothing about the history of HBCUs will get an opportunity to hear that story. And to see the types of individuals who have come through these halls and these institutions. That’s going to be a great opportunity for us and for Morgan State, and it demonstrates the character of the NBA and the responsibility that they feel in terms of making sure that these institutions are recognized.”

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“It’s an honor and a privilege to be invited to be part of NBA All-Star weekend, and we’re just truly excited for our student athletes to be part of something special and being part of the inaugural classic with Howard University because it’s something that we hope will last many, many years,” added Terrence Lillie, Senior Associate Athletic Director at Morgan State University.

Following the HBCU Classic, both teams will meet with NBA league and team executives and participate in programming regarding professional development, networking, and the impact of HBCUs on society. These opportunities, along with the NBA HBCU Fellowship Program, are key components of the NBA’s effort to provide career development opportunities in the business of basketball for undergraduate and graduate students from HBCUs.

Supporting Northeast Ohio organizations

When the All-Stars take the court on Sunday night for the 71st NBA All-Star Game, every play made will serve a higher purpose than just entertainment. As part of the NBA All-Star Game format, every quarter will count to support two Northeast Ohio organizations. Team Durant will be playing for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, while Team LeBron will be playing for Kent State University I PROMISE Scholars Program.

“The mission of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank is to ensure that everyone in our communities has the nutritious food they need every day,” said Kristin Warzocha, the President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “Last year, we provided 53 million pounds of food to more than 1,000 program partners in a six-county service area.”

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank played a crucial role during the pandemic, serving an additional 100,000 northeast Ohioans in 2020 compared to the previous year. Many of these individuals turned to the food bank for assistance for the first time, highlighting the importance of their work.

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On the other side of the court, Team LeBron will be playing to improve education outcomes, specifically focused on the Kent State University I PROMISE Scholars Program. This program supports students from LeBron’s I PROMISE school in Akron as they pursue higher education at Kent State.

“Our students who are currently on Kent State’s campus have been in our programs since the third grade,” said Toni Montgomery, Director of Strategy, Culture, and Operations at the I PROMISE Institute & LeBron James Family Foundation. “We’ve supported them through extracurricular activities, such as after-school programming and summer programming. And we’ve worked alongside them throughout this process to not only get them to graduate from high school but then to support them in that transition into college and then supporting them once they’re in college. For our families, we really need to provide those wraparound services while they’re in college, to help see them to and through.”

Community Efforts and Legacy Projects

While the NBA All-Star Game is the highlight of the weekend’s festivities, there are many other community efforts taking place to support the greater Cleveland community.

On Friday, the league will dedicate the 2,000th NBA Cares Live, Learn, or Play Center at the Cudell Recreation Center in Cleveland. The center aims to bridge the digital divide in the community by providing access to computers and Wi-Fi, helping both children and adults succeed. The All-Star legacy project will address this urgent need in the community.

The focus on food insecurity and education continues with the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service presented by Nike, SAP, and State Farm. Volunteers from across the NBA family will sort and pack food donations at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and provide gently used books through the Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank. These efforts aim to support children, seniors, families, and individuals in need.

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The impact of NBA All-Star 2022 goes beyond the three-day event. It will be felt for years to come in the Greater Cleveland community and among fans and participants from all over the world who come together to celebrate the game they love.

FAQs

Q: What is the NBA HBCU Classic?
A: The NBA HBCU Classic is a basketball game between Howard University and Morgan State University. It is the first-ever NBA HBCU Classic and aims to uplift the HBCU community and empower the next generation of leaders. The game will be simulcast on TNT, ESPN2, and NBA TV.

Q: What organizations will benefit from the NBA All-Star Game?
A: The NBA All-Star Game will support two Northeast Ohio organizations. Team Durant will be playing for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, while Team LeBron will be playing for the Kent State University I PROMISE Scholars Program.

Summary

The 2022 NBA All-Star weekend in Cleveland holds great significance for the NBA and the local community. Celebrating the league’s 75th anniversary and its strong connection to Cleveland, the event focuses on uplifting the HBCU community, supporting youth, education, health equity, food insecurity, and economic inclusion. The NBA HBCU Classic, NBA HBCU Fellowship Program, and career development opportunities for HBCU students demonstrate the NBA’s commitment to empowering the next generation. The All-Star Game itself serves a higher purpose by supporting Northeast Ohio organizations dedicated to food insecurity and education. Through community efforts, legacy projects, and the NBA’s commitment to social justice, the impact of NBA All-Star 2022 will extend far beyond the three-day event.