Lakers Unveil Newest Reading & Learning Center
The Los Angeles Lakers recently partnered with NBA Cares and Toyota to create the team’s 11th Reading and Learning Center. The new Center was unveiled during the 2008 NBA Finals on Wednesday, June 11th, at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica and will provide local children a safe place to read and learn.
The transformed space includes new carpeting, couches, tables, cabinets, desks, chairs, a projector, a plasma screen TV, bookcases stocked with new books and a renovated technology area equipped with 15 new laptop computers, courtesy of Lenovo. The Center also features Lakers themed wall graphics, including one wall with photos highlighting memorable moments in the franchise’s 60 year history.
On hand to dedicate the Lakers Reading & Learning Center were Lakers Derek Fisher, Vladimir Radmanovic and Coby Karl. Despite being in the middle of the NBA Finals and either playing or traveling across country the three previous days, these players realized the importance of their attendance and took time out of their busy schedule to give back to the children and local community. They were joined by several members of the Lakers family, including General Manager Mitch Kupchak, Executive Vice President of Business Operations Jeanie Buss, Lakers Legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, AC Green, Norm Nixon and Bill Sharman, the Laker Girls and members of Jordan Farmar’s family. Also in attendance for the unveiling were David Stern (NBA Commissioner), Adam Silver (NBA Deputy Commissioner and COO), Bob Lanier (NBA Legend and Special Assistant to the Commissioner) and Billy Hunter (Executive Director of the National Basketball Players Association).
While addressing the Club members at the dedication ceremony, Derek Fisher commented, “This is a great honor for all of us that are here. I think we’ve all started from very humble beginnings. We were all your age at one time and this is a great opportunity to share this with you.” Derek revealed that his first organized basketball game was played at a Boys & Girls Club in Little Rock, AR and for him to be a part of this momentous day, in the position that he is in, was truly a gift.
Lakers Legend and NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes it is important for the Lakers and the NBA to be leaders in social responsibility. “My dad read a lot. He always had his nose in a book and from very early on, I understood that reading was an important skill,” said Kareem. “It’s very important that facilities like these are made available to young people. It can really change and improve lives.”
After the ceremony, the Club’s young members could be found enjoying the new room with members of the NBA family. Derek and Coby were challenged to a game of Lakers Monopoly while Vladi was in the Lakers Reading Corner reading The Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard with a group of youngsters. Other Club members proudly showed off the new laptops to the Laker Girls and other guests.
This Center at the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica was the NBA’s 312th Reading & Learning Center as a league. These state-of-the-art facilities empower today’s youth, provide them with endless opportunities and offer a source of hope and inspiration. With less than two weeks to complete the project, the Lakers and the Lakers Youth Foundation would like to acknowledge several partners whose dedicated employees worked extremely hard to make this Center a reality:
- Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica
- National Basketball Association
- Games & Creations, Inc.