‘It’s not just about the game’ NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service helping Utah locals

Feb 17, 2023, 8:07 PM

NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service...

The NBA and community members all gave back during the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service event Friday. (Alejandro Lucero, KSL NewsRadio)

(Alejandro Lucero, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA and community members all gave back during the NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service event Friday.

According to the NBA Cares website, participants of the event dedicate themselves to hands-on projects that focus “on alleviating food insecurity and providing essential items for those in need.”

“It’s an amazing day,” Senior Vice President and Head of Social Responsibility of the NBA Todd Jacobson said. “We couldn’t be happier, really, just fighting food insecurity and really helping with essential products [that] people need.”

According to Jacobson, more than 500 volunteers at three locations spent their time packing more than 150 pounds of food and supplies. He said one location aimed to pack 8,000 boxes of food and supplies.

Familiar faces at NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service

NBA community partners, players, coaches and staff all participated in the event. Among the 500-plus volunteers were some recognizable names such as former Utah Jazz player Deron Williams and former Miami Heat player and Utah Jazz co-owner Dwayne Wade.

Wade said NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service works toward bettering communities, and that starts with community leadership.

“It starts with us. It’s starts with us as community leaders,” Wade said. “The NBA is a leader in most communities, especially here in Utah. The Utah Jazz is one of the biggest leaders in this community (Utah). So it’s important that you make sure the community is taken care of.”

Along with this, Williams said events such as this one are his favorite events to attend. He said he’s grateful “to be able to give back the communities that helped and supported us (NBA).”

“It’s great to be here,” he said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ involvement

Also among the volunteers were representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tracy Browning with the church said the event helps over 27,000 local families.

“I think that we saw that there’s a shared, unique, opportunity here,” Browning said. “Meaning, at the church, we do a lot of humanitarian work. We recognize that the NBA Cares program also seeks to do good in their community, so a collaboration was struck between the owners of the Utah Jazz … and the church.”

She said the Jazz owners and church leadership worked together to make sure that there is beneficial impact from the event.

Over a decade later…

Kalimah Johnson, a long-time volunteer with NBA Cares and NBA consultant has been volunteering for over a decade.

“I come every year. This is my twelfth year,” Johnson said. “I love doing this. This is my all-star, when I can do public service.”

She said the event sends a message showing that the NBA cares.

“I think it sends the message that we care about community. I think it send the message that we care about people,” she said. “We recognize that not everybody can afford, you know, food and things like that. It is important that we make sure that there is an opportunity for us to [help].”

Johnson said she is very excited to participate in the event.

“It’s not just about the game, it’s not just about the parties [and] it’s not just about meeting famous people,” she said. “It’s about elbow-to-elbow doing work with people that you would never meet under normal circumstances.”

Alejandro Lucero contributed to this story.

Related: NBA All-Star weekend, a time to give back to Utah communities

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‘It’s not just about the game’ NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service helping Utah locals