Relief Game Conference Call
Posted Sep 11 2005 11:13AM
Kenny Smith along with Bryant, Stoudemire and Boozer talk about the game
TNT basketball analyst and former two-time NBA champion with the Houston Rockets Kenny Smith will host the NBA Players Hurricane Relief Game, to help aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The game will be held Sunday, September 11th at 6 p.m. ET from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas, and will be televised on TNT at 11 p.m. ET/PT. Players participating in the game will donate over $1 million to hurricane victims.
TNT’s Kenny Smith along with NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer participated in a conference call on Friday.
Byrant on what he hopes to accomplish through his efforts: "What we are trying to do is to let them know that they are cared for. If you listen to the talk on TV, it seems that they have a feeling, on top of all of the emotional devastation, that they are on an island by themselves.
Smith on what motivated him to organize the hurricane relief game: “I think we all went through the same gathering of emotions: shock, then compassion, anger and a little bit of helplessness. I think when we get to that point we all try to figure out what can we do to help. I think overall the one thing I tried to express is I know I have a great phonebook and I know there are a lot of players, former and current, who probably wanted to do the same thing to help the victims of the hurricane and make an impact - they just didn’t have a vehicle to do it. So my main goal and emphasis was to figure out a way to do that.”
Smith on how so many different entities came together to produce the event: “Over a 30-hour period we were able to secure 29 of the best players in the world, get the game on national TV, secure the Toyota Center and have the NBA sanction it, all donated free of charge by everyone.
"Turner Sports will run the game commercial free; there will be no advertising dollars made by TNT. Every aspect and every dime that is made will go back to hurricane victims from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The second component, besides the basketball game, is that each player is donating a minimum of $10,000 in goods and services for food, water, clothing and medical supplies that they will personally hand out to the different shelters in Houston - to let them know that we care and to help those, who at the time, cannot help themselves.”
Boozer on his motivation for participating: “All the stories are very devastating, but the one that hit home with me was a few days ago was when the news did a story on a seven-year-old kid.
"They were trying to give him toys and he broke down crying and said, ‘these aren’t my toys, these aren’t my friends, those aren’t my parents, those aren’t my brothers;’ the kid had lost his mom and dad and both of his brothers and it hit home… imagine losing your whole family at the age of seven. When I got the call to do this event, I was more than motivated and wanted to be as involved as I could be.”
Bryant on his reasons for getting involved: “Just like everybody, I felt the need to contribute in some form or fashion. Given that we’ve been blessed to be able to play the game of basketball, this is a great opportunity to use our God-given potential for the benefit of mankind. When you see the tragedy and devastation that takes place out there, you have to almost not be human to not feel some type of compassion or warmth in your heart for these people. We’re just trying to contribute in any fashion that we can.”
Smith on the effort it took to organize the event: “It’s a big task but it wasn’t as hard as I thought (it would be). Most of the guys had things planned that they wanted to do, but all I did was give an avenue so it could be a collective effort. Amare (Stoudemire) already had $100,000 worth of trucks going down… most of these guys that I called had already planned things. I talked to Kobe’s agent and in three minutes he got back to me and said ‘he’s in’, so it wasn’t an effort at all. Carlos Boozer CALLED US. He called and said he wanted to play. The list speaks for itself in terms of the players and the magnitude of players that are in.”
Stoudemire on what he hopes to accomplish through his efforts: “I think the main thing, this is just to raise their confidence. They are feeling real bad about themselves right now. They don’t really know what’s going on or where they are going to end up. My thing is that I just want to give them confidence so they stay focused and don’t give up – to give them hope so they can stay alive.
"It’s a hard time for them right now after what happened down there. A lot of families lost family members. We just want to show support so they can keep their heads up and stay focused….They have to realize how blessed they are to make it out of that situation. Even though they may have lost family members, they are the chosen ones that made it out of that situation so they just have to realize that and try to look at the positive things right now. The main thing is for them to stay focused and keep their heads up - especially the kids.”
Smith on the personal connection he feels to those affected by the hurricane: “The one thing that I thought was that (the Gulf Coast) could be Anytown, USA. That didn’t have to be New Orleans or Mississippi or Alabama, it could have been Brooklyn or Queens, NY. It could have been any of us, 10 or 20 years ago.
"My dad said, ‘Kenny, you didn’t really want for anything growing up in terms of food or clothing, but if you had asked me to stay in a hotel while my job was gone, we would have been in that shelter.’ It hit home because those people look like us, they dress like us, it’s a reflection of what we are and I think that all the players understand that. That’s why you see Stephon Marbury crying when he’s not from New Orleans, he’s from Brooklyn, New York.”
Boozer on players that may have been affected by the hurricane, such as former Duke University teammate and current Chicago Bull Chris Duhon: “Chris Duhon’s family is from Sidell, La., right outside of New Orleans. All of his people are accounted for but he also has some cousins whose houses are mostly underwater. I called around the way and asked him if he was alright and he said that he was good.
"Everybody has a story like that. Everybody knows somebody that was directly affected…my teammate, Deron Williams, is from Houston and he is doing a lot of stuff to help out on his own back home. At some level, it reaches everybody.”
Stoudemire on why he got involved: “What happened down in New Orleans really hit home. I feel very bad about the situation and I want to help out as much as I can. That’s the main reason why I want to donate money to the families and children.”
Stoudemire on personally relating to the tragedy of the hurricane’s devastation: “It hit me personally because I’ve been in that type of situation when I was a kid, when I really didn’t have a household to go to. It’s not easy making that transition. When I see those families and kids down there, I see myself. That’s one of the main reasons I’m really trying to get a lot of companies involved to send some trucks down there and donate some money or products for these kids and families.”
Smith’s on the response time for the relief effort>: “Personally, when I got a little angry, it wasn’t because of what the services were going to be – it was the response time. Everyone got angry at how long it took. I grew up in New York City and there is a consistency with those similar types of socio-economic areas. I know that if I stand on 125th Street (in Harlem) and call 911, and I stand on Park Avenue and call 911, there is a different response time.
"I’m not saying that you’re going to get a different service when they come, but there is a different response time. For us former athletes or current athletes, who can respond quickly for people who can’t help themselves, it’s important that we show that we are here so when the aid comes from the government or the insurance companies, that is just the bonus because we’ve already helped you stay on your feet.”