Time for the Kids

By Johannes Berendt

Moscow, Russia, Oct. 4, 2006 -- His face was telling it all. The eyes were shining brightly, and his smile just would not stop.

Elton Brand´s elated mood must have been very similar to the high spirits the 135 children from a Moscow orphanage were in following the Clippers´ lunchtime visit.

Cassell and Dunleavy share a laugh.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty
"We came here to bring joy to them but they were bringing joy to us," the superstar said after an unforgettable encounter with Russian hospitality and zest for life. "It was great to see their happiness. This was very special."

Moments before, Brand and his teammates had been dancing with the children on the fifth floor of their home. The youngsters had been performing typical Russian songs. When they asked their heroes to join in, it was an offer they could not refuse.

"It was just fun to be with them," added Brand. "I love kids. We came here thinking they might want to see an NBA player, like a big, tall guy, but they made it very special."

As part of NBA Cares, the league´s global outreach community initiative, the Clippers teamed up with BC Khimki and CSKA Moscow to dedicate a new Reading and Learning Center to the orphanage. And there they were, Corey Maggette, Sam Cassell, Cuttino Mobley, Shaun Livingston, James Singleton, Elton Brand, Yaroslav Korolev and Mike Dunleavy, hitting the dance floor and mingling with the kids.

Coach Dunleavy was particularly impressive when he met the children's invitation for a round of "v prisyadku", the traditional Russian kid dance where you get up and down with your arms folded.

"I thought his knees were dead so I was proud of him getting up and down," Brand praised.

The community event featured a newly furnished library and technology center with new computers, who were used straight away. Several children had typed up a number of questions for the players.

"What is your name," a little boy asked with the help of a translator.

Shaun Livingston plays around with a Jacob's Ladder.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty
"I´m Shaun," the Clippers point guard replied.

"How old are you?"

"21."

"Where are you from?"

"I´m from Chicago."

With the duo soon getting engaged in a discussion about movies and music, Cuttino Mobley tried to convince a fellow youngster that the framed picture on the wall did, in fact, feature him.

"That´s me, with my hair cut," the Cat stated. "The coach made me cut my hair."

Dunleavy jumped to his defense. "That´s him. He shoots better with short hair," he added. It truly was an entertaining and joyful community event, both for the players and the kids.