Eighth Annual Grizzlies Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Game and Celebration, Jan. 18
MEMPHIS, January 6, 2010 – The Grizzlies will be hosting the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Game and Celebration on January 18 when they host the Phoenix Suns, and will honor NBA legends Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning for their contributions to civil and human rights. The celebration is presented by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County.
Robertson and Mourning are this year’s recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award presented by FedEx. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the most decorated players on both the professional and collegiate levels in the history of basketball, Robertson overcame the prejudices prior to the Civil Rights era to blossom into an American sports icon. After growing up in a segregated housing project in Indianapolis in the ‘40s and ‘50s, Robertson followed his historic playing career by carrying out Dr. King’s vision through the philanthropic and entrepreneurial efforts that earned him an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from the University of Cincinnati. Robertson has also served as the honorary spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation since donating one of his kidneys to his daughter in 1997. As the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season, the Hall-of-Famer, Olympic gold medalist (1960), former MVP (1964) and 12-time All-Star was named the “Player of the Century” by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 2000. During his college career at Cincinnati, Robertson won the first two Division I Player of the Year honors ever presented, an award that would later be named the Oscar Robertson Trophy in tribute to his remarkable career. Most recently, Robertson was one of five members of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
As a defining player of his generation, Mourning inspired millions when he returned from a kidney transplant to help the Miami Heat win their first NBA championship in 2006. After being diagnosed with the kidney disease that changed the course of an impressive early career that included two Defensive Player of the Year awards (1999, 2000) and seven All-Star appearances, Mourning launched Zo’s Fund for Life. The program seeks to raise funds for research, education and testing to fight kidney disease and fund those who are not able to afford medication. Mourning’s efforts to fight kidney disease are only a portion of the charitable work that the 2002 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner has done. In 1997, Mourning established Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc. to aid in the development of children and families living in at-risk situations. The Olympic gold medalist (2000) was also a member of a group of athletes, including Muhammad Ali and Lance Armstrong, that founded Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization that helps professional athletes and non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
“Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning have carried themselves with the courage and grace throughout their lives both as basketball players and leaders in the community that truly represent what Dr. King stood for,” said Greg Campbell, Grizzlies President of Business Operations. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to pay tribute to them and their work on such an important day.”
The day will begin when the Melrose Golden Wildcats tip off against the Germantown Red Devils at 1 p.m. at FedExForum in the MLK Jr. Day High School Classic. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., following the Grizzlies and Suns shoot-arounds. Admission to the game is free with a ticket to the Grizzlies contest that night.
Following the High School Classic will be the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium will feature Robertson and Mourning, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King with the symposium’s host, TNT’s David Aldridge. The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Health Care Practice Facility at FedExForum from 3– 4 p.m. While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket, space is limited. Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at (901) 888-HOOP.
Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Suns will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised game on TNT presented by Lexus along with associate sponsors McDonald’s of the Mid-South and SunTrust Bank. Fans will want to make sure they arrive early, as prior to tip-off in a live TNT telecast, FedEx will present the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award Ceremony, where Robertson and Mourning will be given their awards. The national anthem will then be performed by multi-platinum recording artist Brian McKnight. The halftime ceremony will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Robertson and Mourning and a performance by the multi-talented McKnight. Read the game preview.
This marks the fifth year the Grizzlies and National Civil Rights Museum will present the Sports Legacy Award. Last year, Julius Erving and David Bing earned the honor. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier were honored with the award in 2008, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo were the recipients of the award in 2007 and Bill Russell and Mannie Jackson received the distinction in 2006.
Tickets for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration and game can be purchased by calling (901) 888-HOOP, at all Ticketmaster outlets, the FedExForum box office or online. Fans can also take advantage of significant savings by purchasing a Pepsi Family Value plan which includes four game tickets, four Pepsi fountain drinks and four hot dogs for as little as $48.