For basketball fans, the NBA All-Star Game means seeing top competitors in the sport go head-to-head in competition. Despite the level of play on the court, though, some of the most impactful moments of the 2018 NBA All-Star weekend will happen off of it.
Over the four days leading up to the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, 3,000 NBA volunteers will engage in community service activities in the Los Angeles area during over 30 outreach programs. The activities are wide reaching, ranging from hospital visits to food packing for the needy, but inclusivity is a central theme of the NBA’s 2018 endeavors.
Highlighted in this year’s community efforts is the NBA’s new platform, NBA Voices. Meant to address social injustice and bridge divides in communities, the platform will be used during All-Star weekend to facilitate conversations between youth, community leaders and law enforcement about challenges their communities face and how to build trust amongst each other. On Thursday, in partnership with Brotherhood Crusade–one of two Los Angeles based nonprofits selected to receive a donation of either $150,000 or $350,000 depending on the outcome of the All-Star Game–players will join in on the conversation on how to spark change and build trust.
Along with conversations, the NBA is using playing basketball as a conduit to facilitate bridge building between communities and law enforcement. In partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality–founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross–the NBA and Under Armour will bring members of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro LA together with Los Angeles Police Department officers to play basketball and in turn, learn leadership skills meant to spur candid dialogue as part of the Los Angeles Building Bridges Through Basketball program.
A notable inclusion in the NBA’s community programming during the 2018 NBA All-Star weekend is a focus on opportunities and inclusion for LGBTQ individuals. The Jr. NBA has partnered with Athlete Ally, an organization focused on ending homophobia and transphobia in sport, to host a Coaches Forum. Along with the Positive Coaching Alliance, A Call to Men and the Human Rights Campaign, the organizations will present education to 100 Los Angeles area coaches on how to develop young athletes and character. Main focuses of the program will be teamwork, diversity and inclusion.
A highlight for many fans during NBA All-Star weekend is the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Game. On Saturday fans will have the opportunity to watch 12 international Special Olympics athletes compete alongside NBA and WNBA players in a fast-paced engaging game fully involving everyone on the court.