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Giving Back

Today at Cleveland High School students were treated to a great time and a wonderful gift as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis teamed up to replace uniforms stolen from the Cleveland Basketball team. On behalf of the Sonics, Storm, and their own charitable foundations the two star players donated jerseys for the entire Cleveland basketball team. The team chipped in by providing free tickets to a preseason game for the entire Cleveland student body and faculty.

More details will follow tomorrow but it was truly a great event. More interesting than the ceremony itself was the chance to listen firsthand as Ray Allen spent time with these young men talking about their future and it's potential. Ray advised members of the Cleveland High School team that their High School days would pass quickly and before they knew it college would as well. He told them to savor these days but plan for the future.

Sonicscentral.com had a chance to speak for a few moments with Cleveland High School Assistant Coach Michael Fortson about basketball's effect on young people and the Sonics role in our community.

"Basketball teaches young men and young women about teamwork, about responsibility. It's great. Losing the Sonics would be terrible for Seattle." Said Fortson who clearly disagreed with city leaders assertation that Basketball has little cultural value.

"They are not paying attention." said Fortson. "I don't think think that they realize that for some kids their connection to school is basketball, or sports in general. To play on the basketball team they have to have great grades and great attendance at school or you can't play. So this is incentive for kids to come to school. If these kids dream of being a professional player then they know that they need to do this stuff at High School first."

Fortson dreads the prospect of telling next years team that the Sonics could be leaving the region.

"I can't imagine that. The young men, and even myself we really value basketball. What the Sonics do here in the community is great and this is a great example of how the Sonics are out in the community giving back and being partners in the community."

In other new coach Bob Hill advised that he expects new Sonic Mickael Gelabale to report to the Furtado Center tomorrow. Apperently Gelabale had some issues with the French National team and his work Visa which had prevented him from arriving until this time.