The last few weeks of the 2007-08 NBA regular season turned into one of the most difficult conference races in league history. It came down to the wire as nine Western Conference teams battled it out for one of eight coveted playoff spots. Every game mattered, even for teams that had clinched a playoff berth because players realized the importance of having home court advantage. When the season ended, it was the first time the top eight teams had at least 50 wins, and only seven games separated the first and eighth seeds. The Lakers, remaining focused under pressure, finished the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference.
As committed as the Lakers organization and its players are to winning NBA championships, we are equally dedicated to giving back and being champions off the court in the Los Angeles community. That is why it was no surprise that during the intense finish of the regular season, two Lakers players could be found at a local Boys & Girls club spending time with young club members and spreading joy.
On April 9, Lakers players Lamar Odom and Vladimir Radmanovic visited the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood after practice to dedicate the club's new basketball court, unveil a state-of-the-art technology center and host a youth basketball clinic. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Lakers Youth Foundation teamed up with the NBA and Toyota to bring Toyota Project Rebound to the club. Refurbishments included new flooring and paint in the gymnasium and new computers, furniture, books and paint in the technology center. The goal of Toyota Project Rebound is to create an inviting space in which kids can learn and play, while engaging in prevention, leadership, personal development and educationally enriching programming offered at the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood.
The afternoon began with a dedication ceremony in the gymnasium, which was highlighted by Lamar’s assist of the day when he helped a young club member slam dunk the ball for the first official basket on the new court! The group then moved upstairs for a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil the club’s new technology center. Painted in Lakers purple and gold, the room is decorated with framed Lakers photos and a 3-D Lakers Read to Achieve sign. Lamar and Vladi also left their mark by writing an encouraging message on the wall of the new center. Excited club members were eager to show the players and the Laker Girls the graphics and educational programs they use on the new computers. Later, the group returned to the gymnasium where Lamar and Vladi helped lead 30 club members in a fun basketball clinic, teaching them basketball fundamentals, including dribbling, passing and shooting. Before leaving, the players also took time to meet the club's teenage basketball team to share some basketball tips and take photographs.
Toyota Project Rebound is a season-long community outreach initiative established by the NBA and Toyota. The program includes 15 hands-on community service projects that will be hosted by NBA and WNBA teams and will include court refurbishments, the creation of Learn & Play Centers, and other Legacy Projects providing youth safe places to live, learn or play.