NEW YORK, April 4 - Michael Finley of the Dallas Mavericks has been named the NBA Hometown Hero of the Month for his community outreach during March. The award is presented monthly to an NBA player who has demonstrated excellence in his community.

Finley, the Hometown Hero in action:
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Last month Finley served as the Mavericks' Reading Month Spokesman and as a member of the NBA All-Star Reading Team. During a pregame and a halftime on-court presentation on March 20, Finley greeted and posed for photos with students from the Mavs Reading Challenge. Finley also read to kids at a Dallas Boys & Girls Club on March 2 in celebration of Dr. Seuss' birthday in a National Education Association's "Read Across America" event.

Finley's community outreach extends far beyond what he accomplished last month. For the past two years, Finley has been featured on posters for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus system, promoting child safety. Last fall, he taped a television public service announcement with two other Mavs for the Mayors Challenge to Buckle Up /America.

During the season, Finley distributes a block of season tickets to all Mavs home games to charities through the Dallas Mavericks Foundation. Michael's "Fin-atics" Community Section features a dozen tickets earmarked for disabled/wheelchair access.

Finley is also extremely active in his hometown of Chicago. Each year he runs the Michael Finley Basketball Camp, which is open to 300 kids at his alma mater, Proviso East High School. Now in its fourth year, the camp is completely free and provides lunches, T-shirts, chances to win Nike sneakers and other prizes for performance, attitude and effort. The camp also features guest NBA visitors such as Tim Hardaway, Marcus Fizer, Ray Allen, Juwan Howard and Antoine Walker. In addition, Finley provides Proviso High with shoes for its boys and girls basketball teams.

Finley provides financial support for a number of organizations including his hometown Boys & Girls Club in Maywood (Chicago). This past year, he provided the necessary funds to finish the renovation of the club and purchased a van to transport the kids. He works with Chicago's Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the support group that provides after school tutoring and activities for 3,000 public school kids. Finley is one of six Chicago ballplayers who provide the foundation of the support. Their "Come Play With Us" weekend this summer will include a golf outing, an NBA "bash" Black Tie dinner/auction, and softball game. Finley gives at least $10,000 to the program each year with Nike providing a matching donation.

In Madison, Wisconsin, where he attended college (Wisconsin '95), Finley helps fund Buckets For Hunger. The organization raises money and solicits food donations for food pantries in Wisconsin and has donated to Maywood (Ill.) shelters in Finley's name.

As the March Hometown Hero, Finley will receive a $5,000 donation from the NBA to the charity of his choice during a Dallas home game later this month. All 29 NBA teams nominate a player for the Hometown Hero of the Month award, which is presented 12 times a year. Other candidates for March included Toronto's Vince Carter, Detroit's Mateen Cleaves, Orlando's Grant Hill, Indiana's Reggie Miller, Chicago's Dragan Tarlac, New Jersey's Keith Van Horn, Sacramento's Chris Webber and Charlotte's David Wesley.