Now that the Super Bowl has concluded, the attention shifts to the NBA as the league prepares for All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Included in the weekend of events is the NBA HBCU Classic, with rivals Grambling State and Southern facing off in a game that will be simulcast on TNT, NBA TV, and ESPN2 on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
This will be the second annual HBCU Classic, with the first taking place last season between Howard and Morgan State in Cleveland.
In preparation for the big game, SWAC Commissioner Charles McClelland was featured in an interview on NBA TV, speaking about the game, the significance of the schools playing in the game, and the impact it has on the players.
“They’re [Southern and Grambling State] synonymous with greatness,” said McClelland about the significance of both teams participating in the game. “They’re synonymous with great individuals coming through those institutions not only from an athletic standpoint but an academic standpoint. To be able to have these two teams matchup in this venue at this point in time at the All-Star Game is tremendous for the Southwestern Athletic Conference.”
"This is just an opportunity to show the world what HBCUs are all about through this basketball game." 🗣@theswac Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland joins NBA TV ahead of the 2023 NBA HBCU Classic! pic.twitter.com/DmzySTRELF
Two of those great individuals from these great institutions will have the honor of serving as the honorary captains for this game.
They include Pro Basketball Hall of Famer Willis Reed, representing his alma mater Grambling State and multiple-time All-Star Bob Love, a Southern great.
McClelland also spoke about the conference’s partnership with the NBA and how it has impacted the student body and athletes.
“That’s what this is all about,” said McClelland. “It gives our students and student-athletes an opportunity that they would not normally have under normal circumstances. The NBA does a tremendous job not only in the African American community but specifically with the SWAC and the SWAC institutions. We’ve been able to have this partnership with the NBA for four years. We’ve been on TNT, we’ve had games on during Black History Month, and what a way to increase the profile of these students by having us a part of All-Star Weekend.”
He also spoke about fundraising events associated with the NBA and why they are so important for HBCUs.
“Those dollars go directly to support the students at Grambling [State] University and Southern University, and that’s the key to success. We still have a large portion of our students that are first-generation,” he said. “When you start talking about the first-generation, a lot of that goes back to the affordability of being able to get a higher education and a degree.
“That is why this is so important. Those funds will go directly back to support students and student-athletes. That is why HBCUs are so proud of the legacy that we have because we have been able to partner with entities such as the NBA and put those funds where they need to be and that is the graduation and education of our students.”