Basketball players’ fragile egos will not be the only thing on the line this year at New Orleans.
During the All-Star Weekend, the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences will be competing for a part of $500,000 in winnings to be donated toward their respective charities. The winners of each main event during State Farm All-Star Saturday Night will see a cool $100,000 given to their organization, and $25,000 to that of the runner up—a joint donation courtesy of State Farm and NBA Cares. The charities were decided upon by team captains Paul George and Stephen Curry.
The Eastern Conference will be repping the American Heart Association and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, while their opposition to the west will play for Teach for America and the Wounded Warrior Project. Recent format changes to the events helped underpin the idea of charitable team play, making it a more pronounced competition between the conferences than a full-on battle royale. Herein, we get to know the organizations who will be benefiting from the events and look at their basketball roots.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
UNICEF and the NBA have long been partners, providing disaster relief, protecting the rights of children and giving global aid via NBA Cares for years. Notable moments included the the partnership’s response to the 2013 typhoon disaster in the Philippines—where basketball played a part in soothing the ravaged nation’s psyche—as well as to the massive earthquake that occured in Haiti in 2010. This is one of the few organizations that has deployed actual NBA players to foreign locations, including Samuel Dalembert, Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Nick Collison, Luc Mbah Moute, Dikembe Mutombo and Jose Calderon to name only a few.
Teach For America
This charity operates to eliminate educational inequity by tapping college grads to teach at public schools. The Golden State Warriors of the Western Conference have worked with the charity in the past when they hosted the Inspired Time-Out program at several San Francisco-area schools. A year ago, Houston Rockets members teamed up with Teach For America to hand out books to school children. The charity has also gotten recognition from high places for its work, including from Michelle Obama. Both the NBA and Teach for America made headlines when the FLOTUS invited Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay male athlete, and Kathy Hollowell-Makle, a Teach for America corps veteran, to sit with her during the State of the Union address.
Wounded Warrior Project
Basketball has been a key fundraising tool for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that benefits post-9/11 veterans with programs, services and events. The NBA also has a history of co-sponsoring events with the charity. It has held special nights dedicated to veteran servicemen and women in the West’s Washington and Minnesota, while Steph Curry of Golden State recently teamed up with Under Armour to drop a collab whose proceeds benefited the organization. Other dedicated games included several on past Veterans Days, as in the case of the Chicago Bulls, as well as more general events, as in the case of the Indiana Pacers’ Sideline Soldiers game.
American Heart Association
Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States, so it makes sense that the NBA is doing its part to eradicate it. The All-Star Weekend’s support for this organization comes just after a group of researchers recently identified a potential new treatment for heart attacks, giving hope to sufferers around the world. The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers have also hosted events in partnership with the AHA, while the association itself works to promote heart-healthy exercise and sport.