NBA Finals legacy projects in Oakland and Cleveland prove the NBA Cares

06/06/2017 08:22 am ET Updated Jun 06, 2017
NBA Commissioner <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.facebook.com/AdamSilverNBA" target="_blank">Adam Silver</a> and Golden S
NBA Cares
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Golden State Warriors Zaza Pachulia cut the ribbon on a new NBA Cares Learn & Play Center at Westlake Middle School in Oakland.

As the 2017 NBA Finals heads to Cleveland, with the Golden State Warriors leading the series 2-0, NBA Cares and its partners have been busy impacting communities in both team’s cities. Last week the Warriors and the NBA partnered with Kaiser Permanente and State Farm to open a new NBA Cares Learn & Play Zone at Westlake Middle School in Oakland.

“In my opinion, what we do in the community is as important as what you guys watch on the court with our players,” said Bob Myers, Warriors president of basketball operations and general manager.

“You all know about our team and our players, I hope,” Myers said addressing Westlake students and media assembled. Surrounded by Warriors players Javale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Ian Clark, Patrick McCaw and Damian Jones, Rick Welts — the Warriors president and COO — and Nicole Curran, the board president of the Warriors Community Foundation, Myers said “days like this when we’re not playing basketball” are “some of our most enjoyable days — giving back to you guys.”

Cutting the ribbon on Westlake’s transformed spaces, which include a family resource room, library, and dance room with new décor, books and wall graphics, the NBA Finals legacy project marks the 1,089th live, learn or play space created by the NBA family. The Learn & Play Zones provide youth with a safe place to play and resources to help them explore educational interests.

“You can see the impact start growing and the excitement around these projects and the teams,” Todd Jacobson, the NBA’s senior vice president of social responsibility, told Sports Illustrated.

Last year the Who’s Who of the NBA visited John Adams High School, as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA teamed up to unveil the “NBA Cares Live, Learn and Play Center” at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland at John Adams.

As part of the 2017 NBA Finals, NBA Cares is also working with DonorsChoose.org to fund more than 60 class projects across Oakland and Cleveland, impacting more than 5,000 students throughout 41 schools.

“It would be great to explore opportunities for us to collaborate with the NBA, NBA Cares and the Cavs,” said Harold Rasul, head boy’s basketball coach at East Cleveland’s Shaw High School. The former St. Joe’s Hawk, whose 1996-1997 team made it to the NCAA Sweet 16, has organized an annual middle school basketball tournament for close to a decade and passionately uses basketball as a tool to educate and empower his students. Cavaliers’ announcer, Ahmaad Crump, has emceed the highly anticipated tournament the past couple of years.

“We would love to be considered as a partner for future NBA Finals legacy initiatives,” said Rasul. “As long as LeBron and the Cavs keep getting to the Finals, we have a chance!”

NBA Cares programs and participants have provided more than 3.9 million hours of hands-on service and created more than 1,080 places where kids and families can live, learn or play in communities around the world. The NBA also engages more than 12 million youth annually, inspiring play and teaching the values of the game.

The league’s global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues, NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Special Olympics, YMCA of the USA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Share Our Strength and GLSEN.

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