The NBA All-Star game has reinvented itself at last, breathing new life and excitement into the league’s regular season showcase. It was the first time in years where the All-Stars on-court played with heart, hustle and desire. And it was more than fitting that at the center of the game’s climax was one of Chicago’s own sons, Anthony Davis.
Pitting 24 of the league’s best players against each other is always going to be the marquee draw. But for the NBA family, the All-Star Game and other on-court activities are just part of the festivities. This is a time where the league, and it’s players, can give back to the community. To inspire a future generation.
AD stepped to the line for the second of his two game-winning free throw attempts on Sunday night, he was surrounded by a sell-out crowd, standing and celebrating. As he iced the game to bring Team LeBron to the target score of 157, he was cool, calm and collected. Perhaps that’s because it wasn’t necessarily his biggest moment of the weekend.
Across the week, tens of thousands of children from Chicago neighborhoods benefited from the support of NBA stars. Support that will last long after the All-Star circus packs up and leaves town. Just two days earlier, Davis found himself at Louis L. Valentine Boys & Girls Club. Founded in 1902, the club’s mission is simple:
To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.
The club serves almost 20,000 5-18-year-olds, providing “emotional, educational, physical, and cultural resources that allow them to enjoy their childhood and thrive in adulthood” and is less than 3.5 miles from Perspective Charter – the highschool he honed his craft. It was the place where his unprecedented growth spurt transformed him from a skinny point guard into one of the most complete big men in NBA history. He was there, along with NBA 2K, to give back to the community that raised him, by unveiling a completely refurbished basketball facility.
The re-development was part of the 2K Foundations program to support underserved communities by revitalising community centres across the USA, having already completed projects in Los Angeles, Oakland, Baltimore, Puerto Rico, as well as LeBron James’ I PROMISE School in Cleveland.
He may be a Laker now, but Chicago is home. When speaking to media at Saturday’s All-Star Practice, AD spoke of how important it was for him to be back in the Windy City:
It’s been great. Glad to be back home, spend time with my family, my friends. It’s going to be a great weekend… But to get back here and play in front of the fans in a place where I grew up, in a place where I had my first like big-time game, the McDonald’s game at UC. So it’s been very exciting to be back and get a chance to relive some of them high school memories that I had here in ChicagoAnthony Davis
As the echoes of the weekend fade away, AD’s box score will read as 20 points, nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks in just over 20 minutes, but what doesn’t show up in the box score is the thousands of people he and his colleagues assisted during the week. Giving back. Caring. Inspiring. Welcoming the next.
Our Mike Miller is not the Mike Miller picked 5th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2000 NBA Draft. He is in fact one of our podcast hosts and a Lead Writer. He loves beards, begrudgingly respects James Harden, writes a weekly NBA column for GiveMeSport and contributes to Sporting News (FIBA). He’s also represented us as an analyst on Sky Sports, BBC Radio 5 Live, ESPN’s Head in the Game podcast and Love Sport Radio.