Local Chicago Charities True Winners of 2020 NBA All-Star Game

By Nick Krewen 2/18/20 | www.samaritanmag.com

Photo credit: screenshot from TSN

Two charities are collectively (USD) $600,000 richer thanks to the 2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star Game held Sunday night.

When the final buzzer hit at Chicago’s United Center, Team LeBron may have edged Team Giannis 157-155 at the 70th annual game that pits the best of the NBA East against the cream of the NBA West, but the real victors of the Feb. 16 game were two local Windy City charities, Chicago Scholars and After School Matters.

By winning two of the game’s four quarters, Team LeBron – led by Los Angeles Lakers legend LeBron James - raised $400,000 for Chicago Scholars, a non-profit organization that offers, according to the site, “academically ambitious, first generation college students from under-resourced communities in Chicago” a seven-year program with access, mentorship and leadership training.

Thanks to Team Giannis – captained by Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokoumpo - After School Matters, which focuses on providing paid apprenticeships and internships for high school teens, walked away with $100,000, that is before Antetokoumpo himself doubled the donation with an additional $100,000 following the game.

The NBA All-Star Game was revamped this year to incorporate an additional competitive and charitable element: the team that won each quarter earned $100,000 for their charity, with the exception of the final quarter, which is worth $200,000.

In the event of a tie, that quarter’s amount is rolled into the following quarter: as was proven when the two teams tied their score in the third quarter. The unclaimed $100,000 was rolled into the fourth quarter, making the final 15-minute victory, eventually claimed by Team LeBron, worth $300,000.

The NBA All-Star Game also added another quirk in honour of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, one of nine people who lost their lives in a helicopter crash earlier this month. The first team who hit the target score plus 24 points in the final quarter – a nod to Bryant’s No. 24 jersey – would win the $200,000.

There is also an added provision that if one team dominates the game and wins every quarter, earning them a potential total of $500,000, the losing team’s charity receives $100,000.

LeBron James first learned of Chicago Scholars when he met the program’s leader, Dominique J. Turner, at the Obama Summit.

Established in 1996 by Nuveen Investments Chairman Tim Schwertfeger and his wife, Gail Waller, Chicago Scholars initially offered a one-time $1000 award to a graduating senior of every city public, private and parochial school.

Through a series of mergers – including a 2002 partnership with Chicagoland Scholarship Fund and uniting with College Bound – a workshop, mentoring and paid internship -focus program – Chicago Scholars now serves more than 3000 scholars and alumni yearly, sporting a national network of over 175 selective enrollment, Ivy League college and university partners.

After School Matters was founded in 1991 by Maggie Daley, the wife of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who wanted to keep her children occupied after school and during summer vacations, and Lois Weisberg, ex-Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

In the first summer that the program ran, 260 students apprenticed with local artists and were rewarded with a stipend for their work.

In 2000, funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation enabled the program to expand into the fields of technology, sport and communications, with science added in 2006.

Since 1991, After School Matters has impacted over 300,000 teens.

Prior to the NBA All-Star Game festivities, the league announced plans to support 40 community-based organizations and their programs – including Center on Halsted – a Chicago-based LGBT Community Centre; Chicago Food Depository – the city’s food bank;  City Year Chicago student community service group and YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

Between Feb. 12 and Feb. 16, the NBA programs surrounding the All-Star Game included supporting those in need,  promoting physical and mental wellness, mentorship, teaching basketball fundamentals and game values and empowering the city’s next generation of leaders.

All told, more than $1million was contributed to local organizations through NBA Cares, "the league’s global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues in the U.S. and around the world," according to its mission.

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* Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.