Despite being involved in an NBA Finals that’s quickly approaching instant classic status, three Miami Heat players took time out to dedicate a Miami school’s new “Learn & Play Center” after Game 1 of the series.
Not to be one-upped, players from the Dallas Mavericks found the time to dedicate a renovated learning center in Dallas on Monday, between Game 3 and Game 4 of the series.
As part of the NBA Cares community-outreach program, members of both teams attended the dedication ceremonies of the Learn & Play Centers and hung out with the schools’ kids for an afternoon.
In Miami, Heat players Juwan Howard, Mike Bibby, Mario Chalmers, and rookie Dexter Pittman joined Heat President Pat Riley and Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to dedicate a new learning center for students at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School. Riley read Where The Wild Things Are to the students, according to nbcmiami.com, and told them, “None of these players playing for this (NBA championship trophy) would be here without the help of somebody else.”
The new state-of-the-art learning system at Paul Laurence Dunbar includes new computers, technology, books, and games, thanks to NBA sponsor Hewlett-Packard.
“This organization appreciates the support of our fans,” said Howard. “We want to show our support for the community.”
See footage of the Heat’s visit, from nbcmiami.com:
The dedication event in Dallas, which took place at J.W. Ray Elementary Learning Center, was the NBA’s 610th learning center, according to NBA Commissioner David Stern. As for the event itself? I’ll let ESPN’s Henry Abbott, who was in attendance, explain the significance:
This was at once both the cheesiest, most staged event I have ever attended ("KIDS, everyone, look ahead ... SMILE ... on the count of three, everybody say 'NBA cares!'") and, thanks largely to the Mavericks in attendance, truly heart-warming. No kidding. Jason Terry, Brian Cardinal, Corey Brewer, Brendan Haywood, Rodrique Beaubois—they were not going through the motions of making an appearance. They were really playing with those kids.
In a particularly touching moment, Terry had the kids saying, “If I believe, I can achieve” in a call-and-response. Terry followed up by saying, “And I believe you will"—which, Abbott wrote, " left a little magic hanging in the air.”
Here’s footage of the Mavericks’ dedication, from the Dallas Morning News:
A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.