As part of NBA All-Star 2014, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Special Olympics Monday announced the third annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game. With support from The Coca-Cola Company and ESPN, the game will tip off at NBA All-Star Jam Session at Sprint Arena, in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Sunday, February 16, at 1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET, prior to the 63rd NBA All-Star Game that evening. ESPN3 will provide live coverage of the game at http://es.pn/UnifiedGame.
This year’s Unified Sports Basketball Game will feature 12 Special Olympics athletes from around the globe – including Jacob Majors of Lake Charles, Louisiana – playing alongside NBA Legends Dikembe Mutombo, Detlef Schrempf, Ron Harper, A.C. Green, and current WNBA stars Tamika Catchings, Lindsey Harding, Ruth Riley and Elena Delle Donne, a Special Olympics Global Ambassador. NBA rising stars Michael Carter-Williams, Victor Oladipo, Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke will serve as honorary coaches with father-son duo Dell and Stephen Curry participating in the honorary tip-off and All-Star Kevin Love handling player-introduction duties.
First held at NBA All-Star 2012, the Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game will combine athletes – with and without intellectual disabilities – as teammates to showcase the power of Special Olympics’ Unified Sports, which helps unite communities and foster an environment of acceptance and inclusion. Prior to the game, NBA All-Star and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Damian Lillard and NBA legend Felipe Lopez will instruct a clinic for 75 local Special Olympics athletes at 11:00 a.m. CST/12:00 p.m. ET.
“We are excited to team up with our longtime partners Special Olympics, The Coca-Cola Company and ESPN to host this wonderful event for the third time,” said Todd Jacobson, NBA Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility. “The Unified Game is a great platform that breaks down stereotypes in a really fun way and shows the power of sport in bringing people together.”
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, Puerto Rico, Russia, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, Spain and Mexico. In 2013, ESPN was announced as Global Presenting Sponsor of Special Olympics Unified Sports, supporting Special Olympics’ goal of registering one million Unified Sports participants and coaches by 2015.
“We are so grateful to our longtime partners at the NBA, and also to our Founding Partner, Coca-Cola, and our newest partner ESPN, for their support of this third annual Special Olympics Unified Sports basketball game,” said Janet Froetscher, CEO, Special Olympics. “To showcase the power of Special Olympics Unified Sports on such a huge global stage like this presents an incredible opportunity for us to increase awareness and educate communities about acceptance and inclusion for all people.”