Inaugural NBA Cares Special Olympics Unity Sports Basketball Game Showcases Special Olympics Athletes and NBA, WNBA Players, Legends as Teammates
Orlando, FL, Feb. 27, 2012 – Yesterday afternoon the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Special Olympics held the first-ever NBA Cares Special Olympics Unity Sports Basketball Game as part of the 2012 NBA All-Star weekend festivities. NBA legends and WNBA players played alongside Special Olympics athletes from across North America to showcase the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports® program, which helps unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance.
With support from The Coca-Cola Company, the game was held on Center Court at NBA All-Star Jam Session. The game went down to the wire. Special Olympics athlete Andre Larry (FL) of the East team sunk a 3-point basket with just 40 seconds left in the game to tie it up at 57 all. Despite a last second attempt by the West squad to pull ahead, the game, fittingly, ended in a tie.
The East team was coached by Charlotte Bobcats’ star Kemba Walker, and included Special Olympics athletes: Kerri Gilroy (Massachusetts), Andre Larry (Florida), Marc Campbell (Toronto), Tony Payne (Tennessee), Rickie Kelly (Wisconsin) and Keyuana Davis (Florida) as well as NBA legends Dikembe Mutumbo and Sam Perkins, and WNBA stars Lindsey Harding and Ruth Riley. The West team, coached by Minnesota Timberwolves star Derrick Williams, featured Special Olympics athletes: Jesse Burnett (Colorado), Anthony Nunn (Minnesota), Sean Vigil (Utah), Steve Lynn (Oklahoma), Jackie Buxton (Oregon), and Jennifer Wardlow (North Carolina) and NBA legends Chris Mullin and Clyde Drexler, and WNBA stars Sophia Young and Marie Ferdinand-Harris. NBA All-Star Kevin Durant also participated by opening the game with a ceremonial ball tip.
“This game proved that Special Olympics is about real sports,” said NBA legend and Special Olympics international board member Sam Perkins. “Our athletes should never be looked down upon. Today proved that we should all look up to Special Olympics athletes and aspire to carry their spirit of determination. It should make people want to play Special Olympics Unified Sports and have our athletes as their teammates.”
In addition, as part of the NBA Cares All-Star Community Caravan, NBA/WNBA legends and players hosted a clinic for local Special Olympics athletes at Jam Session immediately following the game. Lindsey Harding and Ruth Riley of the WNBA, NBA legends Dikembe Mutumbo and Bo Outlaw and Chandler Parsons of the Houston Rockets ran a basketball clinic for more than 70 Special Olympics athletes from across Central Florida.
The NBA’s global partnership with Special Olympics began more than 30 years ago when the league helped to introduce basketball as a new sport to the organization. The NBA has since provided sponsorship to Special Olympics basketball tournaments, created public service announcements featuring NBA players, and participated in major Special Olympics events. In addition, the NBA's Basketball without Borders program has featured international clinics for Special Olympics athletes in China, Puerto Rico, Russia, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, Spain, and Mexico.
About NBA Cares
NBA Cares is the league's social responsibility program that builds on the NBA's long tradition of addressing important social issues in the United States and around the world. Through this umbrella program, the NBA, its teams and players have donated than $175 million to charity, completed more than 1.8 million hours of hands-on community service, and created more than 675 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play, in 22 countries and territories on five continents. In addition, this year the league launched the NBA Cares Community Caravan, a year-round community and fan engagement program, through which the NBA family will reach more than 10,000 schools and community centers and touch the lives of more than 15 million fans. NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: KaBOOM!, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives through the power of sport by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to more than 3.7 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs. Special Olympics now take place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities all over the world, from community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard to World Games. Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics; fb.com/specialolympics; youtube.com/specialolympicshq, and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.
Madeline Wehle Crandall, NBA, (201)-293-1437 or [email protected]
Mandy Murphy, Special Olympics, (202)-459-7561 or [email protected]