Hoops harmony helping build bridges

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-07 09:13
NBA legend Horace Grant lets a migrant school kid wear one of his championship rings during the NBA Cares Children's Day event at NBA Playzone in Beijing on Monday. CHINA DAILY

NBA's cooperation with China now stronger than ever

Never in his wildest dreams did Li Wenyan imagine he would enjoy such a magical time to celebrate International Children's Day.

Guided by visiting NBA legend Horace Grant, the 11-year-old hoops fan shot baskets through proper rings and nets for the first time in his life.

Lack of facilities had previously limited Li to practicing against a wall on a shabby playground at Beijing Mingyuan School, which caters to children of migrant workers.

He was among 60 students invited to the NBA Cares charity event on Monday in the capital, where they learned dribbling and shooting alongside Grant as well as playing interactive games with the former league All Star.

"It's a little bit surreal for me," said Li, a fourth-grader. "With an actual NBA star this big teaching us side-by-side, I was so overexcited that I missed a lot of shots. The whole experience feels like a dream come true."

Under its community outreach program, NBA China has staged over 140 similar events in the league's biggest overseas market.

Grant, a four-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls (1991-93) and Los Angeles Lakers (2001), said it's inspiring to "put smiles back on kids' faces".

"It helps them just escape from what they have back home, to have fun and just get away from that for a few hours. I am pretty sure it's priceless," said Grant, who came from a poor family in Sparta, Georgia.

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