On Veteran’s Day, many nations come together to honour those who have served their countries. NBA teams were no exception, especially with the organization’s Hoops for Troops activation, which saw teams hosting Veteran’s Day leagues, making appearances and raising funds for vets in need. However, team and players across the league honoured their troops’ sacrifices on their own terms, too, paying homage to veterans by announcing commemorative releases, putting on donation drives and hosting appreciation nights.
One of the most high-profile NBA voices to be raised in support of the troops was that of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. According to USA Today, the Air Force Academy graduate noted the “irony” that Veteran’s Day is at once a celebration of our vets, but also a sad day when we realize that veterans aren’t getting the support they need—his words came after approximately 5,000 troops had their federal food stamps cut after House Republicans passed their “Plan B” spend cut measures.
Former NBA center and Hall of Famer David Robinson—who served two years in the Navy Reserve—joined President Obama at the Arlington National Cemetery to participate in the wreath-laying ceremony. The legend wanted to show his appreciation, according to USA Today, and is visiting wounded military personnel today.
Current players on teams across the NBA were showing their support wearing special shooting shirts, headbands, wristbands and socks in the days leading up to Veteran’s Day, with coaches and execs wearing Hoops for Troops pins. These included shirts from Adidas, which were worn by all players in the league. Many wore them during appreciation ceremonies held prior to games, including the Brooklyn Nets pictured above. The Utah Jazz also held a military appreciation night for their Veteran’s Day game, offering discounts and special recognitions for those who have served or are serving—free tickets for vets, and very cheap seats for their loved ones. The Philadelphia 76ers also gave vets free tickets. The Lakers also hosted a substantial effort.
However, some players chose to show their support in their own way. Members of the Phoenix Suns and other teams wore star-spangled socks for the occasion.
Others expressed themselves in a way befitting a baller—digging out the right pair of sneaks. Toronto Raptor’s DeMar DeRozan wore Nike Air Foamposite Pros in the camouflage colourway on Nov. 9, complementing the Raptor’s tribute camouflage jerseys. Dwayne Wade also pulled out a camo colourway of his Li-Ning Way of Wade 2 kicks, scoring 29 points against the Clippers. However, an entire brand also took a step in the right direction, with Under Armour once again participating in the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization dedicated to helping wounded servicemen and women. Steph Curry, who recently signed onto Under Armour, tweeted a photo of a special Veteran’s Day colourway of his low-top Anatomix Spawn low-tops honouring UA’s support for Wounded Warriors. UA has donated over $1 million in proceeds over the last two years to the project.
This is not to say that NBA players don’t have a serious side, and many teams took to helping out their vets by putting in some old-fashioned hard work. The Detroit Pistons launched a transportation program called Come Together on Nov. 8. Although the program will continue to help community organizations reach home games throughout the season, the inaugural ride saw the Michigan Veterans’ Foundation arriving at the Palace of Auburn Hills in style as a thank-you.
The Heat also reached out, but this time to the children of servicemen and women. They hosted a youth basketball hoops clinic at U.S. Southern Command. It saw some of the top brass visit the base, as well as Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem, who made special appearances at the clinic.
The most touching effort, however, belongs to the Sacramento Kings. The team hosted a community blood donation clinic during their Veteran’s Day game, enticing the first 275 donors with free tickets to December games. Additionally, for each donation a member of the military also received a free ticket to the Nov. 13 Kings game versus the Brooklyn Nets.
Cover photo: Lakers Community/Twitter