by Conrad Brunner
September 12, 2005
The final score was West 114, East 95, but those numbers hardly mattered to Jermaine O'Neal or Ron Artest.
The result of the NBA Players Hurricane Relief Game on Sunday in Houston's Toyota Center wasn't about basketball, it was about players gathering to assist those in need. Each of the players involved donated at least $10,000, with O'Neal giving $100,000. O'Neal and Artest were among the players that toured four area shelters as well as the George R. Brown Convention Center, helping to distribute food and raise morale of the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Gulf Coast last week.
"What we're doing is no different than what thousands of Americans are doing and have been doing since the devastation of Katrina was realized," said O'Neal before the game. "We're trying to help our fellow men and women and most importantly, the children that have been affected.
"It's an honor and my duty to help when I can. Playing in this game and donating $100,000 is my way of saying I care about each and everyone who is going without - without food, without water, without medicine. I hope this game destroys the 'without' that these people have been going through. This is my contribution."
The Pacers and Fever franchise previously donated $100,000 to the Red Cross and Salvation Army hurricane relief funds, and Jonathan Bender collected three truckloads of donated supplies to be delivered to his hometown of Picayune, Miss., which was hit hard by the storm.
Prior to Sunday's game, players distributed truckloads of their donated goods and supplies to shelters throughout the Houston area. Items included food, clothing, water, toiletries and other basic necessities.
Other NBA players participating included:
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers; Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers; Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves; Stephon Marbury, New York Knicks; Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat; Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns; Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics; Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat; Antonio McDyess, Detroit Pistons; Steve Francis, Orlando Magic; Sam Cassell, Los Angeles Clippers; Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons; J.R. Smith, New Orleans Hornets; Dahntay Jones, Memphis Grizzlies; Mike James, Houston Rockets; Lindsey Hunter, Detroit Pistons; Derek Anderson, Houston Rockets; and Carlos Boozer, Utah Jazz.