HBCUs will once again be a significant part of NBA All-Star weekend.
The league announced Thursday that it is extending its long-standing partnership and commitment to Black colleges that will culminate with the creation of the first-ever NBA HBCU Classic.
“The NBA family recognizes the storied and prominent role that HBCUs have played in our society for decades,” said Mark Tatum, NBA deputy commissioner. “We also recognize that within our commitments to increase Black representation across the league and grow the game, we can create educational, athletic and career opportunities through engagement with these institutions.”
Also read: HBCU-inspired court design to be featured at NBA All-Star Game
Building off the success of the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta last season, the league announced Howard will play Morgan State in the inaugural event. The game will be held in Cleveland, the site of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game Wolstein Center on Feb.19 in front of a national television audience.
“This initiative really reflects 30 years of work we’ve been doing in partnership with HBCUs,” Oris Stuart, NBA chief people and inclusion officer, told HBCU Sports in a phone interview. “We have a long history of working with and partnering with HBCUs.”
In addition to the game, a $1 million financial contribution to Black institutions through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund will be made.
Also, the NBA — along with the G League and Basketball Africa League — will collaborate on a pre-draft combine for HBCU basketball players, coaches and athletic trainers.
The goal, said Stuart, is to increase exposure and opportunities for HBCU stakeholders to pursue pro careers.
“All-Star weekend in Cleveland is going to have the eyes of the basketball world on it, he said. We are excited about this exposure that is added at an incredible level … that not only highlights the programs that will be performing on Saturday is really going to highlight the HBCU community on a larger scale.”
As part of that, launching in 2022, the NBA and its teams will offer a new paid fellowship program for undergraduate and graduate students. The program, which will be led by the NBA Foundation, will offer HBCU students the opportunity to gain real-life insights and professional experience around the business and operations of basketball. The students will work in positions at the league office and NBA and WNBA franchises.
“Howard University is incredibly proud to take part in the HBCU All-Star Classic during this year’s NBA All-Star, said Howard athletic director Kery Davis. “The NBA and HBCUs are natural partners because of our rich legacy elevating under-represented communities and our shared passion for cultivating opportunities for people of color.”
Said Morgan State athletic director Ed Scott: “The NBA should be commended for the foresight and willingness to address important issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion. The creation of the NBA All-Star HBCU Classic is a clear demonstration of the NBA’s commitment to promoting HBCUs and showcasing the talented young men and women on our campuses.”
Other HBCU-NBA All-Star Game-related events
· The league will expand the NBA’s targeted referee development strategy to leverage existing programs and focus on identification, training and educational opportunities for HBCU students and alumni in the officiating pipeline.
· The NBA 2K League will host events on HBCU campuses to introduce students to careers in gaming and esports, creating pathways for students to pursue careers in the growing industry.
· HBCU alumni and Black entrepreneurs will partner with the league as part of the NBA’s commitment to onboarding more minority-owned businesses as league licensees.
· The NBA will air special alternate game telecasts this season featuring interactive enhancements on League Pass and will work with HBCU schools to provide special experiences around those select games.