Warriors Host Rookie Reading Rally Presented by Ross Stores
Warriors rookies Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green visited Sobrante Park Elementary School in Oakland to pass out books and encourage the students to read.

The 2012 Warriors draft class took over an Oakland school auditorium on Friday morning to host a reading rally for the youth at the school.

Golden State Warriors first-year players Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore met with 240 energetic Sobrante Park Elementary students to discuss the importance of education and reading something new every day. Participants in this event, presented by Ross Stores, also received a Warriors book cover, a Read to Achieve T-shirt as well as a new book.

Warriors Hype Man Franco Finn emceed the event and wanted the kids to be fired up about the new school year and all the new things they will learn and read about.

“There’s a lot of excitement going on today with the school year starting and the basketball year around the corner; we want to talk today about reading, school and getting educated,” Franco explained to the rambunctious K-5 grade students.

The kids lined up beside the entrance of the auditorium and cheered wildly as each rookie ran into the room and gave extended high-fives to the students.

After greeting the excited Warriors fans, each new player addressed the importance of reading and what their favorite books and characters were as a child.

“Reading is a passion of mine and is something you do every day, whether it’s reading the cereal box, doing your homework or finding the bathroom,” Harrison Barnes said.

“My favorite books when I was a kid were Clifford the Big Red Dog and Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” first-year guard Kent Bazemore revealed. The Old Dominion University graduate explained where his love of reading originates.

“I was a kid with a big imagination who loved new adventures, so I loved books that took me somewhere new, whether it was outer space or into a tunnel.”

New Warriors Center Festus Ezeli explained to the children why reading is critical to success in the game of basketball.

“Before every game you have to get ready for your opponent, whether it’s Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard, by reading about what their moves are and what you have to do on the court to stop them,” Ezeli illustrated.

Draymond Green, whose favorite book as a child was The Magic School Bus, detailed what reading has done for his career and his life.

“Beyond just basketball, if we didn’t read and go to school every day we couldn’t get to this point in our lives.”

Four lucky students were then selected to play a trivia game to identify popular literary characters, with students remembering stories from Rainbow Fish to The Giving Tree. After the game, the players asked all students to recite the Read to Achieve Pledge with them:

Reading is fun and books are cool too, I will read a book daily to learn something new;
I will learn different words and listen in school, when teachers read stories and share reading rules;
I will practice my skills in every way, reading is something I will do every day;
Reading offers great adventures to me, reading will help me be the best that I can be.

After the event, Sobrante Park Elementary School Principal, Dr. Lucinda Taylor, was thrilled that such talented and driven young men could share their love of learning with her students.

“It is so amazing to see NBA athletes come to an inner city school and share their excitement for reading. To have athletes they adore and admire reinforce what they hear from teachers is really supportive of the school and the students.”

Dr. Taylor also believes that the day’s events will create a lasting positive effect on their lives, stating, “Kids have goals to be famous athletes, and the students heard today from both teachers and athletes that if you read successfully and work hard in school, then anything is possible.”

Friday’s visit to Sobrante Park Elementary was an exciting conclusion to the Warriors’ Back to School in the Bay: 5 Schools in 5 Days, as the Warriors visited five schools and rec centers in as many days to raise awareness about importance of education. Newly signed Kent Bazemore out of Old Dominion summed up the team’s goal for the week;

“We came here today to celebrate reading and learning, and kids should always know that there is something out there to learn about that is new and exciting.”

To learn more about the Golden State Warriors efforts in the community please visit http://www.nba.com/warriors/community/.