Celebrating Basketball’s Unsung Heroes


The ALS Ice Bucket challenge fleetingly brought out the charitable side of many NBA players, but for some in the league, giving is a way of life. We know the names: Carmelo Anthony, Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant. But who are the guys who give just as much, but don’t get quite as much fanfare for their efforts? We found five NBA players worthy of recognition for their work now and in the past.


Photo: Athlete Promotions

Derrick Rose
While some NBA players struggle to donate a million dollars of their hard-earned cash over the course of their entire careers, the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose just dropped a sizeable lump sum in the laps of a Chicago charity. The NBA MVP gave $1 million to After School Matters, an organization that primarily benefits minority students living in poverty, allowing it to reach 15,000 kids this year. Tellingly, according to Yahoo Sports, Rose is set to make less than $19 million this season, so this gift represents a considerable percentage of his wage. In the past, he’s donated his time to help clean up parks and to feed the needy.


Photo: Vinod Divakaran/Doha Stadium Plus Qatar/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dikembe Mutombo
Often overlooked in regards to his charity work, the Houston Rockets’ Dikembe Mutombo recently awarded almost $15 million towards efforts to build a hospital in Kinshasa, Congo, his hometown. (For context, Carmelo Anthony, one of the NBA’s top givers, only hit $4 million of donations in 2012). He’s also hoping to give an addition $2 million so that the facility will bear his mother’s name, Biamba Marie Mutombo. This all builds on his earlier charity work, which includes donations of $150,000 to help underprivileged kids in South Africa and the creation of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997.


Photo: World Travel & Tourism Council/Flickr/Creative Commons

Yao Ming
Perhaps it’s because Yao Ming does much of his charity work back home in China that he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. The arguably biggest celebrity in the east has recently been fostering education, supporting underprivileged children through charity basketball games and even championing elephants and rhinos. He’s also made sizeable donations to spur disaster relief, from $300,000 to stop the spread of the SARS epidemic to a massive $2 million donation aimed at rebuilding schools after China was hit with an earthquake in 2008. In 2007, he also notably raised $2.5 million for Chinese children in need.


Photo: Philippines Senate

Andray Blatche
He’s not often on the radar thanks to his recent move from the Brooklyn Nets to the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, but Andray Blatche has done his fair share of charity. In 2011, he founded the Andray Blatche Foundation and went on a charity mission to Jamaica, where he awarded schools $50,000, as well as sporting supplies. He’s also given upwards of $10,000 to help veterans and their families at Wounded Warriors.


Photo: Heroes Foundation/Facebook

Dirk Nowitzki
Hosting an annual baseball game to raise funds for children’s charities is one way to ensure basketball fans never hear of your patronage, but his Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game is just one creative way that Dirk Nowitzki gives back. Last season, he pledged $20 for every shot the Dallas Mavericks made to the iBellieve Foundation, a charity supporting Hunter’s Syndrome research. He’s also given $20,000 to Habitat for Humanity Senegal to build 17 homes for low-income families.


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