A big part of every NBA All-Star week involves the league working closely with communities, putting in time working with charities, youths, and other underprivileged groups. This year, the NBA had a presence all over the Los Angeles area, from packing up meals to Special Olympics events to hospital visits.
There is, of course, a focus on working with the youth, as the NBA is vital to many children throughout the United States and the world. NBA has a handful of youth initiatives and programs, including NBA Fit and NBA Cares. Both of these initiatives were on full display on Thursday, as NBA partnered with Kaiser Permanente to treat a Los Angeles middle school to an afternoon of fitness and visiting with NBA and WNBA stars and legends.
200 students from the Richard Merkin Middle Academy were treated to appearances by the Kings’ Buddy Hield, former NBA players Brandon Jennings, Ron Harper, and Felipe Lopez, WNBA star Imani McGee-Stafford, and Hall of Famer Dikembe Motumbo. They helped lead the kids in drills and workouts in several locations on campus, and a good time was had by all.
Motumbo, of course, has been doing these sort of events for a very long time. Speaking with him at the event, you can really get an understanding from him that his passion really lies in these community outreach events, which he attends pretty much nonstop all over the world.
UPROXX: What’s your favorite part of All-Star Weekend?
Dikembe Motumbo: I think our work here NBA Cares Service. Things that we do in the community; enrichment through our youth. Talking to them [about] the importance about them [living] in a society where they’re free, where there’s no trouble, where they love each other, and where they have discipline. But to get the discipline, our children need some guidance, and I’m happy that the NBA with its partner bring all the support that they can in the community.
How important is it to you that the NBA does these sort of things?
It’s very important, because our games are not being played just in the stadium. They are played on the front yard, on the back yard of their house, on the street, on the park, through our games are becoming one of the most popular sport around the world, and we are very pleased the way our games are going. And the same fact, we want to go where our games are going. We want to identify all the problem that are facing our community, and see how can we solve it, not just through our games.
And you also do work also internationally, not just in America.
All over. I’m the NBA global ambassador. I oversee much of our social responsibility overseas and nationally. I travel a lot. I just came from Europe. I went to Europe, I came back, then I went to Africa, came back, and I’ll be going again.
So you’re tired.
I’m used to it. But the weekend, the All-Star weekend is a bit of working.
Do you enjoy coming out here, working with the kids?
I enjoy it. The most thing make me enjoy it, because when I was younger there was a lot of people, including my oldest brother, and the oldest in our community would reach out to me, trying to guide me to be successful. So I always feel like I have a duty and a responsibility to do the same thing to the generation to come.
When you do an event like this, with NBA Fit, what one thing do you hope that the children take away from what you are able to teach them?
We want to cut obesity. Obesity is becoming a huge problem to our children. Our young people are spending a lot of time playing video games, talking on the phone, watching YouTube, doing text messages. They are not spending time together as friends, as people in a community, as a family. They are a little bit disconnected. I think if they can find the time, maybe 15-20 minutes out of the day to bring them to the place like this, where they can interact to themselves and their friends, I think we have a chance to find a better world tomorrow.