By: Taylor Weeks, De La Salle High School
Mentored by McClain Forman
Photos by Stephanie Mayer
On Friday February 17, 2017, I was awarded the opportunity to meet some of the NBA’s biggest stars and players in the NBA through the Junior Journalist program which was hosted by the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation.
Throughout the day, I was granted unprecedented access to the NBA players as they helped with the community by building a new playground for William Hart Elementary school. This gave me a chance to talk to some of the NBA’s biggest stars with names such as Demarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson among other NBA greats in attendance. I had the opportunity to talk to the players about their personal and professional lives as well as the importance of giving back to the community.
As an easygoing question to get things moving, I asked every player that I interviewed what they bought with their first NBA paycheck. The first answer I received was a lecture from Eric Gordon and Wesley Matthews about the fiscal irresponsibility of the ownership of a Bugatti, as I stated that I would have spent my first paycheck on that specific car. Three players who answered my question were, in turn, heartwarming, predictable, and just plain out funny. Damarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings stated that he bought his mom a brand new house. Marquese Chriss of the Phoenix Suns said that he bought a black Mercedes G-Wagon. Jahlil Okafor, interestingly enough, bought a dog. He left before he could disclose the type of dog it was.
I was able to ask about the importance of their service here, and overall what they thought about the All-Star Weekend. Marquese Chriss, when asked about the service event, stated that he “loved it”, and that so far this was a “good experience” for himself. Eric Gordon, who played for the New Orleans Pelicans from 2011-2016, stated that he was “glad to be back, and helping out New Orleans.” From this I got that although the NBA players were here for the All-Star game, they also seemed to understand that they were here to help out with community, and took the service event to heart.
As the event started to wind down, I was lucky enough to grab a quick word with the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about the importance of the event. He stated that “There are never enough people to do the work that needs to be done, but we try to do our share.” This statement gave me an even greater appreciation for what the NBA does for the communities and gave me even more insight about the meaning of the event, as well as the significance of the event for the NBA as a whole. Overall I thought the event was a huge success and felt lucky to be a part of it.