The 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans had no shortage of basketball talent roaming the Big Easy’s streets. And while some of the game’s greatest electrified crowds at the Smoothie King Center Friday-Sunday nights with the ‘Rising Stars Challenge,’ ‘All-Star Saturday Night,’ and the ‘NBA All-Star Game,’ basketball’s stars shined brightest while volunteering at the ’10th Annual NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service.’
Formulated back in 2008 — the first time New Orleans hosted All-Star Weekend and following the destruction Hurricane Katrina left behind — the Day of Service brings the NBA family — which consists of current and former NBA, WNBA, and NBA Development League players and coaches, along with many volunteers — into the host city’s communities, to assist with several service-based initiatives. This year’s projects took place in the greater New Orleans-area, where fans were delighted to have some to the game’s biggest names in their neighborhoods.
All-Stars such as Lebron James, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler, were all in attendance at one of the three simultaneous Day of Service projects featured: ‘Jr. NBA Day’ at Tulane University, where more than 1,000 children from southeast Louisiana were led through an hour-long skills clinic; ‘KaBOOM!,’ where a playground was rebuilt by members of the NBA family at William Hart Elementary School; and ‘Project Rebuild,’ where residents of the Hollygrove-Dixon neighborhood in New Orleans had their homes refurbished and a community garden was planted in the neighborhood.
We had an opportunity to visit ‘Project Rebuild’ and caught up with William Stoudt, Director of Rebuilding Together New Orleans, who explained the significance of the partnership between NBA Cares and Project Rebuild in Hollygrove-Dixon.
“The Hollygrove-Dixon neighborhood was one of the neighborhoods that flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and was one of the forgotten neighborhoods in terms of rebuilding and aid,” said Stoudt. “It’s well-known because of because of Lil Wayne, but not a lot of love has been shown to it. So our neighborhood association president said, ‘We’re in a food desert; we have a lot of kids; we want them to have a place to play, somewhere to work, a place to show them where food comes from. We want to put a community garden in.’ So, they [the Neighborhood Association] came to us, and we went to the NBA to pitch this project.”
Despite the cold rain and overcast weather conditions, the NBA family and an abundance of NBA Cares volunteers could be seen planting, refurbishing signs, and revitalizing many of the houses on Eagle Street. NBA All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler were fully hands-on, using the flick of their paint-splattered wrists to coat the exterior of a veteran’s home. We spoke to Kyrie and captured his thoughts on the significance of giving back, as well as a few Hollygrove-Dixon residents, who shared what the day meant to them in the video below:
While it’s fun to watch stars lighting up the highlight reel with surreal plays out on the hardwood, it’s also important to see pro-athletes dishing out dimes to fans in their communities.
Photos/Video: The Sportstyle