We’re mere days away from NBA All-Star Weekend, and while it’s not exactly the brightest idea to host an event that will draw thousands of people to Atlanta in the middle of a global pandemic, that doesn’t mean there isn’t at least some good that can come from the festivities.
On Tuesday, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced that they’ll be dedicating the 2021 NBA All-Star Game to elevating HBCUs and supporting the communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Per the NBA, more than $2.5 million in funds and resources will be used to provide “additional support and awareness around equity and access to COVID-19 care, relief and vaccines.”
Recipients of these donations include the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, and Direct Relief (Fund for Health Equity).
“As a founding partner of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the NBA has been a consistent supporter for more than 33 years,” Thurgood Marshall College Fund President and CEO Dr. Harry L. Williams said in a statement. “By dedicating its All-Star platform to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the NBA is making a profound statement about the league’s commitment to a better future, recognizing the crucial role Black Colleges have always played in facilitating racial equity and serving the African American community.”
“We welcome this exciting opportunity to partner with the NBA and the players,” UNCF CEO Dr. Michael Lomax said in a statement. “Together, the NBA and players can shine a bright light on the vital work of our nation’s HBCUs and help ensure that we can support our Black college students on their education journeys.”
Each All-Star team, with Kevin Durant and LeBron James serving as captains, will represent either the UNCF or the TMCF. At a minimum, the league will donate $500,000 to both organizations. Per Bleacher Report, an additional $150,000 will be awarded to whichever team is winning after three quarters, and the team that reaches the fourth-quarter target score will receive another check for $300,000.
During the All-Star draft on Thursday, Durant and LeBron will announce which organization they’ll be representing.
Here are more details on other donations that will be bestowed throughout the game, courtesy of Bleacher Report:
The Slam Dunk Contest will see three participants paired with an HBCU “to provide financial support that will benefit students, faculty or programs that address emergency aid, technology needs, food insecurities and mental health services exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Each of the players will receive a minimum $50,000 donation to the school, and an additional $100,000 will be given to the winner. Every dunk that takes place during the All-Star Game will result in a $5,000 donation to the TMCF by AT&T, and the company will provide a $100,000 contribution for the three dunkers in the contest.
In addition, State Farm will donate $1,900 to the UNCF for each assist during the All-Star Game, and Kia will donate a car to the organization of the winning team.
Six Skills Challenge participants will head to the All-Star festivities, each of whom will represent an HBCU and students from that state. Those players will receive $35,000 apiece to send to the state’s UNCF Emergency Student Aid program, with an additional $40,000 going to the winner.
Mountain Dew will award $100,000 in scholarships to two HBCU students during the broadcast of the Three-Point Contest, in addition to donations of $3,500 for each made “moneyball” shot and $5,000 for each made shot in the MTN DEW Zone during the contest.
“HBCUs provided premium education to our communities at a time when access to higher learning was denied to us,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said in a statement. “They were there—and have remained there—for us. We now stand with them.”
And we love to see it.
Again, in a perfect world, the looming threat of the coronavirus wouldn’t detract from the weekend’s festivities, but at least there’s a positive to take away from all of this.