Five Clippers players gathered around a group of children and L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar at State Street Recreation Center in Boyle Heights Monday afternoon to join in a 10-second countdown before Huizar cut through a ceremonial blue ribbon with an oversized pair of scissors. 

Jamal Crawford, DeAndre Jordan, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens and J.J. Redick, Clippers alumni Lamond Murray and several members of the Clippers Spirit joined the Los Angeles Clippers Foundation, The California Endowment and the Department of Recreation and Parks in reopening the center’s playground and newly refinished outdoor basketball court. 

It was one of three playground and court refurbishments the FIT Campus Program will assist with in the coming months, including locations in South Los Angeles and Long Beach. The playground at State Street included new equipment, aptly painted red and blue, adding a fitness station, and resurfacing the ground around the equipment, as well as resurfacing the basketball court with fresh lines, new poles and backboards.

Last season, the program helped three other parks in the vicinity with similar projects.

“I wish I had a new court to go to when I was this age,” said Crawford, who has also helped open several new courts in his hometown of Seattle. “These kids, I’m sure they’ll take advantage of it. They were very, very happy to be out here today. This is their community, so they’ll honor it and use it.”

Hundreds of children and families utilize the State Street center each day. Facilities Director Robert Yoneda said they conduct youth league basketball games four days a week as well as several others sports and activities.

“It’s hard because a lot of the older kids that are too old for our leagues don’t have anywhere to go,” Yoneda said. “[Because of the new court] we’re able to have a place for them as well as the youth leagues that we’re running.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to get new equipment and stuff for the whole community to exercise and play and use our courts outside.”

The courts and equipment are also intended to encourage fitness.  

“I’m biased, but I think basketball is a great way to be fit,” Redick said. “There are plenty of other ways: dancing, maybe coming out here alone and running sprints along the basketball court. Youth fitness is an important thing and our country obviously has some problems with obesity and health and if we can get them in the right habit early I think it’s a great thing.”

The California Endowment operates with the motto “health happens here” and according to Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kathlyn Mead, the court and playground refurbishments is an example of hard work paying off.

Mead and several others, including Huizar addressed a large crowd to kick off the event. Huizar, who lives two blocks from the center, presented the Clippers with a certificate of recognition on behalf of the City of Los Angeles for the organization’s work in the community.

After a brief press conference, the group headed over to the playground and cut the ceremonial ribbon before the current and former Clippers led a series of basketball drills on the new court.

“They never have a chance to experience playgrounds like this and athletes,” Collison said. “I think locally, it’s special for them.”