The days leading up the NBA Draft can be stressful for the NBA’s top prospects. But between media day and taking the stage at the Barclays Center, 10 top prospects spent some time with a group of New York City students.
The soon-to-be-draftees stopped by Public School 111 in Manhattan last week to host an NBA FIT clinic with 75 young aspiring basketball players. Their visit also helped tip off the city’s free summer meals program.
In New York, a lot of kids depend on their schools for healthy meals. And once the long summer break begins, their access to nutritious food ends. But through a program run by No Kid Hungry and the New York City Department of Education, free healthy meals are available across the city for kids under the age of 18.
“Making sure kids get the healthy food they need in the summer feeds more than just their bodies. It feeds their futures,” said Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, on of the sponsors of the summer meals program.
The event at PS 111 began with introductions by former NBA players Bob Lanier and Felipe Lopez and New York mayor Bill de Blasio. Then the NBA’s future stars took over.
Eventual No. 2 pick Jabari Parker and No. 11 pick Doug McDermott both helped stress how importance good health and fitness is to becoming a successful athlete.
“Tomorrow our dreams are about to be turned into reality and none of that would be possible if we weren’t eating the right foods, the nutritional foods that you guys should be getting every day,” McDermott told the students, who sat wide-eyed looking up at the 6’8” three-point specialist.
After listening to the players, the kids finally got what they came for — the chance to work out with some of the biggest names in basketball.
Andrew Wiggins, who was hours away from becoming the top overall pick in the Draft, showed kids how to jump rope. Parker and Adreian Payne played knockout with another group. The Celtics’ future No. 6 pick Marcus Smart looked like he was having a ball as he raced kids backwards the length of the court, throwing his hands in the air when he finished first.
The event was organized to teach kids the importance of staying active and eating healthy, especially in the summer months. But it was an important part of the prospects’ Draft experience, too.
“This is what we came here for,” McDermott said. “We came here for the Draft and we’ve all dreamed of this situation. But this brings back memories of being these guys’ age and we just want them to be able to use us as resources to try and get them to where we’re at some day.”
Photo: No Kid Hungry