This year’s All-Star Weekend is a family affair for the NBA, which will be spreading a message of unity, hope, solidarity and change in its host city of Los Angeles. From Thursday through Sunday, the league is sending more than 3,000 volunteers into the City of Angels with more than 30 outreach programs and events.
“It’s the most important time of the year, when you can get everybody together,” said Todd Jacobson, the NBA’s senior vice president of social responsibility. “Obviously, NBA All-Star is a celebration, but the ability for us to utilize it as a platform to give back, to use a sport that brings people together, is just incredible. For years, really, the primary program or highlight for us has been our NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service, which takes place on Friday. We have more than 1,500 volunteers coming out. We’ll be building a playground, we’ll be packing more than 240,000 pounds of food with a food bank, packing supplies and needs for Baby2Baby, which helps provide essentials for families in need. And it just continues to be such a great platform to tip off the weekend.”
Events will include the NBA All-Star Fit Celebration, the 11th annual NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service, Jr. NBA Day, the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game and Building Bridges Through Basketball, among many more.
NBA Cares, the league’s global social responsibility program, will host service projects, basketball clinics and games, and fitness and nutritional activities.
“We tipped it off in 2008. We’ve built more than 90 places now where kids and families can live, learn or play during our NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service,” Jacobson said. “So it’s just a special way to bring people together and celebrate the game and really use it as a point for inclusion and making sure that we are having the largest impact possible.”
The league’s NBA Voices initiative addresses social injustice and bridges divides in communities.
“From an NBA Voices perspective, which is a platform we launched on MLK Day, we’ve had close to 300 events and activities that have taken place over the course of the better of about 18 months now,” Jacobson said. “It actually tipped off here in Los Angeles when Carmelo Anthony helped lead the efforts working with the USA Basketball men’s and women’s Olympic teams. So it’s really terrific to be back here and continuing to have that dialogue, and really helping and utilizing our position to help bring people together.”
This year, through NBA Voices, the league will rally Los Angeles youths, community leaders, law enforcement, and NBA and WNBA players and executives for an in-depth conversation about today’s social climate.
Jr. NBA, the league’s youth basketball participation program, is set to engage more than 2,000 youths in basketball clinics and competitions. The Jr. NBA is focused on helping grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. The program offers a free curriculum covering all levels of the game that includes more than 250 instructional videos featuring NBA and WNBA players.
“I think the most important thing we can do is we just want to be part of the community, working with our teams that do so much during the year, the Clippers and the Lakers and all the community partners that we’ve worked with,” Jacobson said.
Here is this year’s schedule of events:
NBA Cares All-Star Community Events:
- Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Visit (Thursday):
- Members of the NBA family will visit the hospital and enjoy games and crafts with young patients and their families.
- NBA All-Star FIT Celebration (Thursday):
- The NBA, Kaiser Permanente and After-School All-Stars will unveil a newly refurbished fitness center at Alliance Gertz-Ressler/Richard Merkin 6-12 Complex. NBA and WNBA players and legends will join students in fitness and nutritional activities focused on the total health of mind, body and spirit.
- Community Conversation (Thursday):
- In partnership with Brotherhood Crusade and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will bring together local youths, law enforcement and community leaders for a discussion addressing the challenges facing their community and ways to build trust.
- NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service (Friday):
- Current and former NBA and WNBA players, coaches, partners and celebrities will lead three service projects with support from Nike, SAP and State Farm. In partnership with KaBOOM!, members of the NBA family will construct a student-designed playground at Jefferson Elementary School. Other volunteers will join Baby2Baby to package donations for children living in poverty. At the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, packed donations will go to local seniors in need.
- NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Basketball Game (Saturday):
- NBA and WNBA players and legends will join 12 Special Olympics athletes from Los Angeles and around the world for a clinic and demonstration game at the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC).
- Building Bridges Through Basketball (Saturday):
- The NBA, Under Armour, Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Los Angeles will celebrate the Los Angeles Building Bridges Through Basketball program by bringing together local youths and LAPD officers. The weekly program features a combination of on-court basketball training and hands-on leadership activities developed by RISE that is designed to inspire candid dialogue and build trust as part of the NBA Voices initiative.
- Hoops For Troops (Thursday-Sunday):
- The NBA will partner with the USO and Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors to host special experiences for military service members, their families and the families of fallen service members at NBA All-Star’s marquee events, including a visit to the Bob Hope USO Center.
- Make-A-Wish (Thursday-Sunday):
- The NBA will grant the wishes of eight Make-A-Wish kids with critical illnesses in Los Angeles. The kids and their families will enjoy several days of fun events and life-changing experiences, including meet-and-greets with NBA All-Stars, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night participants, and NBA and WNBA legends.
Jr. NBA schedule:
Events will include clinics, tournaments and educational sessions that teach the values and fundamentals of the game. All events and clinics will take place at LACC on courts provided by SnapSports.
- NBA Day (Friday):
- In partnership with Under Armour, more than 1,500 local youths will participate in a series of basketball clinics alongside NBA All-Stars and Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars players.
- Gatorade Jr. NBA All-Star Invitational (Saturday-Sunday):
- Sixteen boys and girls middle school basketball teams, which advanced from preliminary tournaments in January, will play in the Gatorade Jr. NBA All-Star Invitational single-elimination quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Saturday and the championship games on Sunday.
- NBA Skills Challenge (Saturday-Sunday):
- More than 500 participants will compete for a chance to advance to the national finals of the Jr. NBA Skills Challenge, which will be held in New York in June. The Jr. NBA Skills Challenge is a national competition that provides boys and girls ages 9-13 the opportunity to showcase fundamental skills through dribbling, shooting and rebounding competitions.
- NBA Coaches Forum (Sunday):
- In partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, A Call to Men, Athlete Ally and the Human Rights Campaign, the Jr. NBA will host a coaches forum to educate and support nearly 100 local coaches in developing young athletes of character. NBA and WNBA legends will discuss teamwork, diversity and inclusion.
- NBA Clinic for LAPD and LAFD First Responders (Sunday):
- In partnership with the LAPD and Los Angeles Fire Department, the Jr. NBA will host a Jr. NBA basketball clinic for first responders and their families at LACC. NBA legends will join participants for on-court skills and drills.