Hornets Players Help Launch City’s Midnight Basketball Program

February 27, 2013

New Orleans Hornets players Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez and Xavier Henry attended a ceremony on Monday, Feb. 25, at the KIPP Central City School, essentially to represent the Hornets at the launch of the city’s third NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball League. However, Anderson, Lopez and Henry quickly decided to give students a lasting memory that went beyond merely appearing at Monday’s announcement, which also featured New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Rita Benson LeBlanc of the Hornets and Saints.

While wearing Hornets sweatshirts and sweatpants, Anderson, Lopez and Henry played an informal halfcourt game of “3-on-25” against fifth- through eighth-grade students. In between good-naturedly blocking some of the precocious youngsters’ shot attempts, Anderson swished a few 30-foot jumpers, while Lopez and Henry both threw down slam dunks. At one point, Lopez dunked on a handful of awed “defenders” in the paint.

Landrieu, Benson and numerous other speakers helped officially launch the third edition of Midnight Basketball in the Crescent City, which will begin on March 2 at the KIPP gymnasium. The school is located on Third Street, a few blocks from St. Charles Avenue.

Since its inception, there have been nearly 2,000 participants in the midnight hoops program. It is free of charge and open to males over 16 years old. The city and the Hornets are also partnering in the initiative with PlayNOLA.

“Midnight Basketball is specifically designed to help our young folks in this city have something really constructive to do,” Landrieu said of the program’s objectives. “We have continued to work together to make sure that this continues to be available to the young men in the city. The most significant threat to the future of the city of New Orleans is the safety of our young men and women.”