EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — As we discuss David Stern‘s legacy as commissioner of the NBA, we can’t forget about NBA Cares, the program launched in 2005 to support communities around the world.
This week, Oct. 22-29, is NBA Cares Week. Before the season gets started, NBA teams (players, legends, coaches, and front office personnel) are out and about in their communities, making an impact in a myriad of ways.
On Friday, the Boston Celtics held their annual Shamrock Gala, which benefits children in need via their Shamrock Foundation and its non-profit partners. On Wednesday, Utah Jazz players hosted a group of 38 at-risk kids at their practice facility for a basketball clinic. Also on Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers began collecting non-perishable food items for those in need. On Tuesday, the Brooklyn Nets visited Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, visiting pediatric cancer patients and their families. On Monday, the Charlotte Bobcats tipped off their Stay Active program with a clinic for 75 kids in Raleigh.
This is just a small sampling of what teams have been doing over the last five days, and what they do year round. Through NBA Cares, the league, its teams and its players have donated more than $205 million to charity, completed more than 2.1 million hours of community service, and created more than 750 places where kids and families can live, learn or play.
For the Nets’ MarShon Brooks, there’s a responsibility that comes with being an NBA player. There’s a role to be played in the community and there’s time to be spent with those who need guidance and support.
“Kids tend to look up to guys who are on TV, who they see a lot,” Brooks said this week. “Kids look up and see us every day. Kids want to be like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. It’s huge when they can meet somebody that’s close to them.”
In addition to his NBA Cares activities with the Nets, Brooks took part in Basketball Without Borders in Russia in September. He also takes time to visit campers around the New York and New Jersey area in the summer.
“I love to just give back,” he said. “I’ve always been a guy to get along with kids. A lot of them have dreams of making it to the NBA, so if I can just help them by showing them the little things that I’ve learned over the years, it’s huge.”
And just a little bit of time can go a long way.
“If meeting me, shaking their hands, and spending five minutes of my time with them is huge to them,” Brooks says, “it’s huge to me too.”