UPDATE: Kevin Durant has been scheduled for 4pm tomorrow and I encourage everybody to get there early to attend the game. Get there early as it will be crowded.
It would really be a shame if Kevin's first day back in Seattle passed in uneventful fashion. I encourage you all to participate tomorrow welcoming @KDTrey back to play in @JCrawfordProAm by tweeting your appreciation along with the hashtag #SeattleLovesDurant. I'm also going to tell him he's #Classy
Read the text of this one and think about these great athletes and what they are doing.
SinceJuly 6th Seattle native Jamal Crawford, of the Los Angeles Clippers, has hosted a weekly Pro-Am tournament spanning 6 weeks. This event will allow amateur and recreational players to share the court with their NBA idols and other leaders from Seattle's thriving basketball community. The Pro-Am's third season will feature an all-star lineup of local celebrity athletes joined by NBA superstars including former Sonic Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers.
There is little doubt when Durant arrives his participation in the 3rd year event will dramatically increase the level of media coverage it receives. Durant is one of the game's biggest stars and remains immensely popular in Seattle, where fans feel that he handled the team's departure to Oklahoma City with tremendous class.
Durant was photographed twice this past season wearing a Seattle Supersonics hat.
Amid the frenzy surrounding Durant's return to Seattle; the public should take some time to appreciate the broader benefits of a pro-am tournament intended to strengthen community relationships while engaging the vulnerable youth of our city. Outside of the public eye, Crawford, along with a network of NBA players and associates have quietly increased their community involvement to emerge as hands on benefactors within some of Seattle's most needy communities.
Tavio Hobson, Executive Director of the APlus Youth Program, has seen the growth of player impact in recent years.
"There is a consistent and genuine pulse of the basketball culture through Seattle and it only continues to grow stronger with each and every game and tournament that happens," says Hobson. "Events like the Pro-Am provide life-long memories and become a gathering place for the community and kids to fellowship and reenergize excitement about the possibilities ahead."
In addition to these events the players are also active in supporting non-sports related local. Last year, for example, the Brandon Roy Foundation served as a title sponsor for the Rainier Scholars luncheon. Without asking for any personal recognition, Roy assisted one of Seattle's most successful academic programs in their mission to cultivate the academic potential of young scholars from ethnic minority backgrounds.
As one of the individuals spearheading this movement Crawford believes that having an active and visible presence within these neighborhoods can impact their fans off the court. "I know how important it is to have someone positive to look up to in your community," He says. "It's our responsibility to give back and be accessible to our youth. When they can reach out and touch us, it makes their dreams more realistic."
Crawford knows that some professional athletes take their opportunity for granted, winding up out of touch with their old neighborhoods and the people who live there. "That won't be me," He insists. "One of the coolest parts of being in the NBA is the positive impact you can have on people's lives, kids in particular."
Their commitment to community service had drawn the attention of local officials.
Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn, first partnered with Jamal Crawford to launch the mayor's Be Here. Get There. attendance campaign for Seattle public school students in 2011. The attendance campaign just finished its second year and is showing success at increasing the attendance rate in Seattle.
"Athletes like Jamal Crawford are great role models for Seattle youth," says McGinn. "One of the defining characteristics of Seattle is that we welcome and appreciate any individual who wants to stand up and make a difference. These guys are showing tremendous leadership by supporting our diverse communities. I stand with them. And I am proud that many of them call Seattle home."
Crawford credits the strong presence of Sonics players in the community during his childhood as a significant factor in his current success.
"Having the opportunity to be around guys like Doug Christie and Gary Payton at a young age really showed me what it means to be a professional. I couldn't imagine growing up as a youth without the Sonics. They helped shaped and mold my dreams because I was able to interact with them. Now, with us not having a team, I think all of us athletes have a greater responsibility to set a good example, and be there for these kids like the Sonics were for us."
Some 20 years later Tavio Hobson feels that Crawford is doing a remarkable job in filling that role for the next generation of kids. "Jamal Crawford represents the Seattle community with remarkable consistency." Hobson says, "He is a genuine guy with an amazing heart off the court."
The Jamal Crawford Pro-Am runs through August 30th with tournament games being held at Seattle Pacific University's Royal Brougham Pavilion located at 3414 Third Avenue West, Seattle WA 98119. All-Star and skills competitions are scheduled to occur on July 28th. For a complete schedule visit www.JamalCrawfordProAm.com or follow @JCrawfordProAm on Twitter.