In the midst of an NBA lockout, 8 NBA players, led by the Chicago Bulls’ MVP Derrick Rose, took their games to Pearl Harbor’s Bloch Arena, as part of the USO’s Pacific ‘Hoops For Troops’ tour, to entertain the troops and their families. The group included Brook Lopez of the New Jersey Nets, Robin Lopez of the Phoenix Suns, Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks, DJ Augustin of the Charlotte Bobcats, Mike Miller of the Miami Heat, JaVale McGee of the Washington Wizards, and Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings.
I was fortunate enough to be invited as “media”, but as a lifelong NBA fan (I could hear my dad cheering for the Lakers while in the womb) and basketball player (does once a month count?), this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get close to the pros I’ve only been able to admire on TV.
Me: What does it mean to be here playing on the USO Tour?
JaVale: It’s definitely an honor to be out here supporting troops. This was a fantastic opportunity for all of us and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I hope to be able to do more things to spend time with our service men and women abroad.
Me: You recently played in a few exhibition games in the Philippines. What was that experience like?
JaVale: It was a great experience. The Filipino fans are insane. They love basketball.
Photo by Ricky Li.
JaVale then proceeded to put on a show during warmups. Check out that wingspan!
And now game time!
See the full set on Flickr: 10.25.11 - USO NBA Hoops For Troops
The NBA stars put on a show, as expected, and their military teammates played great (these guys more than held their own against the NBA players). The incredible night was capped off by the Sacramento Kings’ Tyreke Evans’ game-winning, buzzer-beating jumper from the top of the key over the Miami Heat’s Mike Miller. As you can see, the crowd went nuts! Not too sure about Tyreke’s celebration “tumble”, though.
The next stop for the USO basketball tour will be Schofield Barracks in Wahiawa, on Thursday at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed live at HawaiiStream.iHigh.com.
About the USO: The USO (United Service Organizations) lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. They provide a touch of home through top quality entertainment, innovative programs and services. To join in this patriotic mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit http://www.uso.org.