Those behind this weekend’s All-Star Game in Atlanta view the event as something bigger than just basketball. To that end, as part of this year’s festivities, the NBA will provide more than $3 million in support to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity. The goal is to bring a spotlight to HBCUs, one that will be on display in every event Sunday in Atlanta — the slam dunk and 3-point contests, the skills challenge and the All-Star Game itself.
The money will provide scholarship funding for HBCU students. “I’m trying to bring awareness to a lot of the HBCUs out there,” said Phoenix Suns All-Star and National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul. “I have a class at North Carolina A&T. My brother and my AAU team have been doing calls with different coaches at HBCUs. It’s the education of it. In doing this, I’ve been able to learn a lot. … I’m just trying to bring awareness to not only myself but other people about these HBCUs that I think a lot of time get overlooked. I just want to tell our players great job — great job doing what you’re doing and we’re going to continue to make change with action.”
Johnson spent two years as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations before abruptly stepping down in 2019, and he faced some criticism following his departure. He said that if there was an ideal fit, he wouldn’t mind returning to a role directly in the NBA. “I think that if the right opportunity came about, I would definitely look to do it because I love the game. I talk about it all the time on Twitter. I watch every game all the time every night, so I love it so much,” Johnson said. “I love the NBA. And especially this year, I think I really fell in love with it even more so because I think the balance is there. We have so many incredible teams that can actually win, and I think we’re seeing some of the other organizations try to improve and get better. So I’m happy with what I’m seeing.”
There’s been a recent groundswell of support to change the logo’s silhouette from West to Bryant. Frazier, during MSG Network’s telecast of the Knicks’ 109-90 win over the Pistons, proposed a logo that would feature a bunch of greats, dating to the original big man, George Mikan. “First of all if you just use one guy you’re embarrassing a lot of other guys,” said Frazier, who led the Knicks to two NBA championships. “I would start with George Mikan. What about George Mikan? Without George Mikan these guys would not be around. What about Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell? They saved the league at that point. That brought us to the 70s.
“The Knicks and Lakers were there but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. J [Julius Erving] came in and then [Michael] Jordan. So those are the players that made this game. Made it possible for Kobe and these guys. It should incorporate a way to use all these guys at one time to be the logo.”