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Grizzlies to honor George Gervin and Clyde Drexler as part of 10th Annual MLK, Jr. Day Celebration

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MEMPHIS, January 6, 2012— The Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting the 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 16 when they play the Chicago Bulls.  This year, NBA Hall of Famers George Gervin and Clyde Drexler will be honored for their contributions to civil and human rights.  The celebration is hosted by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County and presented by FedEx, Hyde Family Foundation, Lexus, Delta Air Lines, C-Spire, MLGW, Sun Trust and McDonald’s of the Mid-South.

Gervin and Drexler will be the recipients of the Seventh Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award, presented by FedEx.  The award pays tribute to the 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.

Nicknamed ‘The Iceman,’ George Gervin's playing records alone speaks volumes. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have won more league scoring championships than Gervin's four, and he was the first guard ever to win three scoring titles in a row. His career scoring average of 26.2 points per game is among the game's best as is his combined NBA/ABA total of 26,595 points. During his Hall of Fame career, Gervin recorded a remarkable streak of scoring double figures in 407 consecutive games. He played in 12-straight All-Star Games, including nine in the NBA, and he averaged at least 21 points in each of those dozen years. One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Gervin won an All-Star Game MVP Award and twice placed second in voting for the regular-season MVP Award. 

But these numbers only begin to tell the story of Gervin's life and work, after his playing career ended Gervin started The George Gervin Youth Center, providing vocational training, remedial education, mentoring, tutoring, job placement and supportive services for over 1,400 of San Antonio's at-risk and disadvantaged youth and their families. Gervin’s mission is to provide innovative, comprehensive, culturally sensitive services to positively impact on the lives of troubled youth and their families.

One of the game's all-time great guards, Clyde "The Glide" Drexler was known for his high-flying yet seemingly effortless swoops to the basket. After almost a dozen seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Drexler left Portland with his name all over the franchise's record books. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, a 10-time All-Star and a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Dream Team, Drexler twice led the Blazers to the NBA Finals. Once the Hall of Famer joined the Houston Rockets midway through his 12th campaign, he added a championship ring to his list of accolades.

In 1995, he began the Drexler Foundation in Houston. The foundation’s mission is to help fight illiteracy among all age groups. More recently, Drexler has lent his time and efforts to the ‘I Am Waters Foundation’, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing fresh, clean water to the homeless daily with an inspirational message of hope and a sense of belonging to the greater community.

“George Gervin and Clyde Drexler have carried themselves with the strength 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 excited to have the opportunity to pay tribute to them and their work on such an important day.”

The day will begin this year with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation.  The symposium will feature Gervin and Drexler, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King.  The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Health Care Practice Facility at FedExForum from 10-11 a.m., with doors set to open at 9:30 a.m.  While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket against the Bulls that afternoon, space is limited.  Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at (901) 888-HOOP or email at rsvp@grizzlies.com.

Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Bulls will tip-off at noon in a nationally televised game on ESPN, presented by Lexus and Delta Air Lines, along with Associate Sponsors Sun Trust and McDonald’s of the Mid-South.  Fans will want to arrive early, as FedEx will present the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Ceremony prior to tip-off, where Gervin and Drexler will receive their awards.  The halftime ceremony, presented by MLGW, will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Gervin and Drexler, and a performance by American funk and soul band, Robert Randolph and the Family Band.

After the game, C-Spire will present the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day High School Classic.  This year, the Dyer Count Choctaws will tip-off the first contest against the Caruthersville Tigers at 3:30 p.m., followed by a contest between the Pulaski Academy Bruins vs. Briarcrest Saints.  Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the Grizzlies game. 

This marks the seventh year the Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum have given out the Sports Legacy Award, presented by FedEx.  Last year, Willie Mays, Willis Reed and Lenny Wilkens earned the honor.  Previously, Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning were recognized in 2010. Julius Erving and Dave Bing were presented with the award in 2009.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier were honored with the award in 2008.  David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo were the recipients for the award in 2007 and Bill Russell and Mannie Jackson received the inaugural distinction in 2006.

This nationally televised game on ESPN is sold out.