NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Special Olympics today announced that two-time Kia NBA MVP Steve Nash, NBA Legend Yao Ming, NBA All-Star Andre Drummond and 2016 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge participant Karl-Anthony Towns have been named Honorary Coaches for the fifth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game at NBA All-Star 2016. They will join ESPN’s Sage Steele, 2016 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest participants Devin Booker and Khris Middleton, and NBA Cares Ambassador Isaiah Austin to lead the East and West squads. 2015 NBA Champion Stephen Curry and his father, NBA Legend Dell Curry, will tip off the game at Toronto’s Enercare Centre at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 13.
This year’s 40-minute demonstration game will feature 12 Special Olympics athletes from around the world playing alongside NBA legends and WNBA legends/players, including Bruce Bowen, Jason Collins, Tamika Catchings and Ticha Penicheiro for the West, and Detlef Schrempf, Tracy McGrady, Special Olympics Global Ambassador Elena Delle Donne and WNBA Cares Ambassador and 2003 WNBA Finals MVP Ruth Riley for the East. The majority of Special Olympics athletes competing in the game also competed at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
First held at NBA All-Star 2012, the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game will bring together athletes with and without intellectual disabilities as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics, which helps to unify communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion. Following the game, NBA Legend A.C. Green, Jeremy Lamb, Rodney Hood and Lindsay Whalen will host 75 youth athletes from local Special Olympics Programs for a basketball clinic on the NBA FIT Court presented by Kumho Tire at Enercare Centre.
“The NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game has become a highlight of our NBA Cares All-Star efforts,” said NBA Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility Todd Jacobson. “We value the passion Special Olympics shares for basketball and inclusion and are looking forward to bringing together some of the best athletes from across the globe for this terrific game.”
Bruce Bowen, NBA Legend
Jason Collins, NBA Cares Ambassador
Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
Ticha Penicheiro, WNBA Legend
Eliza Mills, Australia
Franck Cedric Koffi, Cote d’Ivoire
Milton Vieira, Italy
Natalie Branscombe, Canada (Nova Scotia)
Sarah Byrne, Ireland
Gohulan Rajalingam, Canada (Toronto)
Detlef Schrempf, NBA Legend
Tracy McGrady, 7-time NBA All-Star
Elena Delle Donne, Chicago Sky
Ruth Riley, WNBA Cares Ambassador & 2003 WNBA Finals MVP
Duquan Walker, U.S. (Mississippi)
James Black, U.S. (Washington, D.C.)
Jose Rondon Zapata, Venezuela
Maria-Lamprini Dragkola, Greece
Matt Grimes, U.S. (Massachusetts)
Temitope Amodu, Nigeria
These 12 Special Olympics athletes will also enjoy a memorable NBA All-Star experience, including a meet-and-greet with members of the NBA family and tickets to marquee events throughout the week.
“Giving our athletes the chance to compete alongside NBA and WNBA players on a world stage as part of NBA All-Star helps us continue to break down the barriers that exist for our population – a population that is marginalized and oftentimes ignored all over the world,” said Mary Davis, Acting CEO, Special Olympics. “We are incredibly thankful to our longstanding partners at the NBA and their continued support of this fifth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game.”
The NBA’s global partnership with Special Olympics began more than 30 years ago when the league helped 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. Through NBA Cares, the NBA family has hosted international clinics for Special Olympics athletes in China, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Russia, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, Spain, England, Mexico and, with this event, Canada.
About NBA Cares
NBA Cares is the league’s global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues. This season, as part of the 10th anniversary of its creation, NBA Cares is renewing its commitment to communities around the world by inspiring play and teaching basketball’s values to more than 15 million youth, providing an additional 3 million hours of hands-on service to others, and leaving a lasting legacy in communities by building 1,000 more safe places to live, learn or play by 2025. NBA Cares works with internationally recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: Special Olympics, YMCA of the USA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, UNICEF, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Share Our Strength and GLSEN.
About Special Olympics International
Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports, every day around the world. We empower people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 4.5 million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than 1.4 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 94,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including the Christmas Records Trust, the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN, Microsoft, Lions Clubs International, Toys”R”Us, Mattel, P&G, Bank of America, Essilor Vision Foundation, the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation, Finish Line, The Safeway Foundation, and Safilo Group. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org. Engage with us on: Twitter @specialolympics, fb.com/specialolympics, youtube.com/specialolympicshq, instagram.com/specialolympics and specialolympicsblog.wordpress.com.