NEW YORK – The Jr. NBA, the NBA’s youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, launched this week in the U.S. and Canada for children ages 14 and under. The program, which will reach five million children within two years, also includes the launch of the Jr. NBA “Rookie Division” in Canada for boys and girls ages five to seven at 125 Jr. NBA clubs across Canada, it was announced today. BMO Financial Group has signed on as the Founding Partner of the Jr. NBA in Canada, which will teach fundamental skills and the values of the game.
Following NBA Canada’s successful pilot program in 50 Canadian communities in 2014, the Jr. NBA Rookie Division will launch 125 Jr. NBA clubs across Canada as part of the 125th anniversary of the invention of basketball. The Rookie Division will include age-appropriate equipment and curriculum, including a smaller basketball that is 25 percent lighter than standard youth basketballs; lowered hoops ranging from 4’5” to 6’5” in height; and modified games. The program’s curriculum is developed by the NBA Basketball Operations department and a team of experts in child development, physical literacy and basketball fundamentals.
“We are excited to announce the Jr. NBA Rookie Division, a program tailored for children to learn how to play basketball the right way,” said NBA Canada Vice President & Managing Director Dan MacKenzie. “As the popularity of the game continues to grow in Canada, the Jr. NBA Rookie Division will provide Canadian youth with a fun, active and healthy learning environment through basketball.”
“Kids have a great opportunity to learn the skills they need to win in sport and in life through the Jr. NBA program,” said Connie Stefankiewicz, Chief Marketing Officer, BMO Financial Group. “As Founding Partner of the Jr. NBA in Canada and Official Bank of NBA Canada, BMO’s goal is to make a meaningful contribution to basketball and to kids in communities across the country.”
As part of expanded efforts around the Jr. NBA presented by Under Armour in the U.S., the league tipped off the inaugural Jr. NBA Week (Oct. 19-26), where all 30 NBA teams will host youth basketball events in their communities and during their open practices.
The Jr. NBA app, developed by YinzCam, and JrNBA.com will serve as the premier resources for youth basketball players, parents, coaches and officials. Organizations can register for the Jr. NBA network at JrNBA.com and receive valuable benefits, including access to Jr. NBA events and a free starter kit with a Jr. NBA banner, nets, whistles, clipboards, cones and other items to help support a successful youth basketball program. The website will also feature league management software and instructional videos for basketball skills and drills.
The Jr. NBA will reach five million youth in the U.S. and Canada over the next two years through a series of basketball clinics, skills challenges and tournaments. To reach its goal, the NBA has developed a Jr. NBA partnership network that includes youth basketball programs of all NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League teams, elementary and middle schools, military bases and longstanding community partners, including the YMCA.
Additionally, the league has established the Jr. NBA Leadership Council to help provide direction on the program’s development and evolution. The council consists of prominent basketball influencers and stakeholders, including Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri, 2014-15 NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis, Academy Award-nominated director Spike Lee, Duke University and USA Basketball Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski, 2015 WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky, and others. Retired U.S. General Martin E. Dempsey, the newly appointed special adviser to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, will serve as the chairman of the Jr. NBA Leadership Council.
In March, BMO Financial Group and the NBA announced a multiyear partnership that made BMO the Official Bank of NBA Canada.