Star power and elite-level basketball certainly drew a crowd, but it was the NBA's focus on the importance of service and impact through empowering youth at multiple events that were the highlights. Through our partnership with the Jr. NBA, PCA was able to have a lasting impact on the historic Chicago All-Star Weekend events.
Starting with Friday night, PCA helped facilitate the Respect for the Game Coaches Forum for coaches and youth basketball administrators. PCA’s VP of Business & Philanthropy, Jason Sacks moderated a panel of trained professionals on creating an atmosphere of diversity and inclusion for young athletes. The panel featured NBA veteran Glen Rice, WNBA veteran Renee Montgomery, Hudson Taylor from Athlete Ally, and Ted Bunch from A Call to Men.
Sacks then interviewed Gary Zielinski, an 18-year veteran NBA referee, on the importance of respecting officials throughout the youth sports experience. Next, PCA’s National Partnerships & Marketing Manager and National Trainer, Marti Reed led a Double-Goal Coach® workshop to introduce the coaches to our philosophies of character development and life lessons through sports and shared tangible tools for them to implement with their athletes. Coaches walked away motivated and inspired to use their influential platform to create a positive culture within their programs.
Jason also spent time presenting to the NBA stakeholders at their Jr. NBA Leadership Council meeting on the work PCA is doing with the Jr. NBA to provide education and resources to their members on sportsmanship and character development.
On Saturday and Sunday, Marti led three PCA talks and “Respect for the Game” panels for the Jr. NBA’s Skills Challenge and 3x3 Tournaments. After the athletes competed to showcase their skills, the Jr. NBA took advantage of the opportunity to teach life lessons and prepare the players to respect the game and their opponents with PCA conversations and off-court programming.
Players, coaches, parents and families gathered in the stands to hear from PCA to kick off conversations with NBA superstars like James Harden (Houston Rockets), Wendell Carter (Chicago Bulls), Nate Mitchell (assistant coach of Charlotte Hornets), and Gary Zielinski (NBA veteran referee). The crowd was extremely engaged as we spoke about how these pros fill the emotional tank as players and coaches, their favorite sports moments and what keeps them motivated, and how parents can support their kids throughout the youth sports journey.
Thank you for the incredible energy, passion and insight you brought to our events this weekend… Thanks for all you do, not just for the NBA, but for so many kids, parents and coaches around the country.