HBCU’s Howard and Morgan State to play NBA All-Star weekend

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By TIM REYNOLDS AP Basketball Writer
Among those likely to play the NBA All-Star weekend this season are Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Stephen Curry.
Also playing at All-Star weekend: Howard and Morgan State men’s teams.
The NBA plans to generate exposure for historically black colleges and universities during All-Star Weekend again this season, by announcing the game for the inaugural NBA HBCU Classic on February 19. Howard was scheduled to play that day at Morgan State in Washington. ; instead, at the behest of the NBA, the teams will meet in Cleveland on Saturday of the All-Star weekend.
Howard’s athletic director Kery Davis was unsure how his basketball coach Kenny Blakeney would like the idea of ​​dropping a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference home game against a rival. Turns out Blakeney didn’t need to be convinced.
“It’s great for everyone,” Davis said. “A rising tide lifts all boats and this is a great opportunity for all HBCUs and for us individually in terms of exposing people to our university and to the history, traditions and excellence of our university,” quite frankly. So he got it right away.
Some details are still being worked out. The NBA said the game will be televised nationally from Wolstein Center in Cleveland, the arena that will host some All-Star weekend events. The home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, will be the site of the weekend’s biggest events, such as the All-Star Saturday Night and the All-Star Game itself on Sunday.
There is no shortage of NBA players who have worked to increase HBCU exposure in recent years, including James, Curry and Chris Paul. The league said during All-Star Weekend last season that it would do its part as well. On Thursday, in addition to announcing game plans, he revealed the start of a paid scholarship program that will place HBCU students in jobs with the league office and with the NBA and WNBA teams.
“The NBA is to be commended for its foresight and willingness to address important issues around diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Morgan State athletic director and vice president Ed Scott.
Last season’s All-Star Game in Atlanta raised at least $ 3 million for the HBCUs through donations to scholarship funds – and the exposure these schools got during the game was worth even more. The courtyard was designed by artists from HBCU; the pre-game featured groups from Grambling State, Florida A&M and Clark Atlanta; and even the trio of referees assigned to play by the NBA were all HBCU graduates.
Howard’s history is rich, with the school dating back to 1867 and an alumni roster that includes Vice President Kamala Harris, Elijah Cummings, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, and countless other prominent people in their fields.
But when Davis travels the country, he said, he’s regularly asked where Howard is and if he’s a Division I institution. After the All-Star weekend, he hopes it, more people will know the answer to these questions.
“I think it gives us the opportunity to connect with an audience that potentially doesn’t know much about us,” Davis said. “But also, not only does it give the opportunity to be exposed to universities, but it also gives the opportunity to tell the story of universities – which is even more important.”
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