Twelve top NBA prospects teamed up with a group of kids at The Children’s Aid Society Dunlevy Milbank Boys & Girls Club in Harlem Wednesday to lend their athletic talent to a healthful cause. Popular players, including Thomas Robinson and Bradley Beal, spent the day before the NBA draft running an NBA Fit Clinic, leading more than 100 children through several fitness drills.
The clinic, created by the NBA Cares initiative, uses basketball as a language to promote staying active and living healthy.
“You see their faces today,” Todd Jacobson, the NBA’s senior vice president of community relations, said of the kids participating in the clinic. “They’re just so excited to spend time with the players and that’s what it’s all about -- to encourage them to go out and to be active everyday.”
Other NBA prospects in attendance included NCAA champions Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played for University of Kentucky together. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller, former teammates at University of North Carolina, also participated in the day's events, and Andre Drummond, John Henson, Meyers Leonard, Damian Lillard, Austin Rivers, and Dion Waiters joined in, too.
Potential draftees dispensed words of wisdom while coaching the participants on dribbling, shooting and rebounding. Barnes, one of the top-rated players in the recruiting class of 2012, advised the younger generation to “get into" nutrition bars and to incorporate organic foods.
“What you eat is how you perform,” said Barnes. Still, he admitted to eating a less-than-stellar diet as a child. “I used to go for the more Rice Krispies, Pop Tart, brownie route,” he said.
For those with limited access to nutritional resources, Barnes points to water as a vital staple accessible to all. “You don’t need to drink sodas and pops and juices, just make sure you stick to water,” he said, obliquely addressing the current controversial debate involving sugary drinks. “Worst comes to worst, you can always try to go for fruit.”
The draft's presumed first pick, Davis, towered over a gaggle of youngsters and dished out his thoughts on maintaining a long-lasting career.
“Hard work pays off,” said the power forward and center, who is also known for his pronounced unibrow. “Some [of the kids here] are going through the motions. I tell them, ‘Do it like you’re doing it for real.’”
The 2012 NBA draft is set to air Thusrsday night on ESPN and stream online at 7 p.m. EST.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified Todd Jacobson as the senior vice president of community relations for NBA Cares. He is senior vice president of community relations for the NBA.
Jeremy Lamb and Terrence Ross were also not in attendance as previously stated.