LeBron James and Stephen Curry were two of the many stars in New York over the weekend for the NBA All-Star Game. But two days before they hit the court at Madison Square Garden, they shot around with a group of local kids.
On Friday, James and Curry joined nearly 60 elementary, middle, and high school students at an NBA Fit basketball clinic at the newly revamped High School of Graphic Communication Arts gym. The space was renovated by the NBA and features a new floor and All-Star banners of NBA players, including James and Curry.
“I didn’t play on courts like this. [I played on] outdoor courts and makeshift courts,” James told the kids.
The youngsters were grateful for the gym upgrade. And they were pumped up about the opportunity to interact with James, a four-time NBA MVP, and Curry, this year’s top All-Star Game vote getter.
“I gotta say, I was so excited when I found out basketball players were going to be here,” Jada C., 7, said. “I called everybody in my family and told them that I’d be playing in a gym that the NBA fixed up.”
James and Curry led defensive shuffle and vertical jump drills with the participants. The crowd looked on in amazement as James jumped up to grab the rim of a basketball hoop and spun a basketball on his finger.
“It means a lot to see two of the best basketball players come here and teach us the different moves they have,” Tatiyana Brown, a 15-year-old junior varsity basketball player said. “It feels really good to know that the NBA cares about our community.”
In addition to showing off his skills, James also delivered a key message to students.
“Listen to your parents and listen to your teachers,” he said. “Hopefully, me and Steph can continue to be an inspiration, as well.”
Curry reminded students that he and James aren’t different from them. He attended basketball clinics with some of his favorite basketball players as a kid, too.
“We were in your shoes before,” Curry said. “I went to camps and sessions like these to hear what the guys I looked up to had to say about how to approach whatever you’re passionate about in life.”
Robert Garcia, 14, appreciated the All-Stars’ advice and encouraging words.
“This was a great experience to be around these players. They motivate me to do well in everything I do in life,” Garcia said. “Hearing them say they started out just like us is inspiring because I want to be an athlete too.”
Photos: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images