Memphis Grizzlies to honor Julius Erving and Dave Bing as part of the Seventh Annual MLK Jr. Day Game and Celebration

Memphis, December 22, 2008 – The Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting the Seventh Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Game and Celebration on January 19 when they host the Detroit Pistons, and will honor NBA legends Julius “Dr. J.” Erving and Dave Bing for their contributions to civil and human rights. The celebration is presented by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County.

Erving and Bing are this year’s recipients of the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A basketball pioneer, Erving honors Dr. King’s vision through speaking engagements and his leadership in multiple business ventures. Erving has served on the Board of Directors for numerous companies, including Meridian Bancorp, Saks Incorporated and the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Erving also headed a project in the late 1990’s to be the first ever NASCAR racing team at any level owned completely by minorities.

As a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Erving won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award during the 1982-83 season for his outstanding service and dedication to the community. A member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, the former NBA MVP (1981) and NBA Champion (1983) revolutionized the game of basketball with his grace and style on and off the floor. Prior to being an All-Star in each of his 11 seasons in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers, Erving was a three-time ABA MVP with New York Nets.

As a Hall-of-Famer and member of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All-Time Team, Bing’s greatest achievements have come when his storied playing career is over. After donating countless hours and personal resources to the city of Detroit, Bing announced on October 16, 2008 that he would run for the Mayor of Detroit in the February 2009 primary. Before his decision to run for public office, Bing founded The Bing Group, which supplies metal samplings to the auto, appliance and office furniture industries through vertical integration. The Bing Group is a certified Detroit-based minority business enterprise dedicated to uplifting the Detroit community.

At the 1990 NBA All-Star Game, Bing received the Schick Achievement Award for his work after his NBA playing career. During his 12 year career with the Pistons, Bullets and Celtics Bing was named an All-Star seven times, won the league scoring title for the 1967-68 season and was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year following the 1966-67 campaign.

“Julius Erving and Dave Bing have honored Dr. King and his legacy, both during their playing careers and through the continued efforts that they have made away from the court,” said Memphis Grizzlies President of Business Operations Greg Campbell. “We are grateful for the chance to pay tribute to them on a day that has such significant meaning.”

The day will begin with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Mentoring Breakfast, presented by the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation and the Memphis Leadership Foundation, at 7:30am at the BRIDGES Center. This event will feature a live presentation via satellite from General Colin Powell to discuss youth mentoring as part of the legacy of Dr. King.

Following the breakfast, the White Station Spartans will tip off against the Southwind Jaguars at 1:00 p.m. at FedExForum in the MLK Jr. Day High School Classic. Doors open at 12:30 p.m., following the Grizzlies and Pistons shoot-arounds. Admission to the game is free with a ticket to the Grizzlies contest that afternoon.

Following the High School Classic will be the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium will feature Erving and Bing, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King. The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Healthcare Practice Facility at FedExForum from 3 – 4 p.m.

While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket, space is limited. Season ticket holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at 888-HOOP. All other fans can get tickets from the FedExForum box office when purchasing a ticket to that night’s game.

Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Pistons will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. in a nationally-televised game on TNT presented by Lexus. Fans will want to make sure they arrive early, as prior to tip-off in a live TNT telecast, FedEx will present the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award Ceremony, where Erving and Bing will be presented with their awards, and the national anthem will be performed by singer/song writer and film star Brandy. The halftime ceremony will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Erving and Bing, and a performance by the multi-platinum and Grammy Award-winning Brandy.

This marks the fourth year the Grizzlies and National Civil Rights Museum will present the Sports Legacy Award. Last year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier earned the honor. In 2007 David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo were the recipients of the award, and in 2006, Bill Russell and Mannie Jackson received the distinction.

Tickets for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration and game can be purchased online, by calling 888-HOOP, at all Ticketmaster outlets or at the FedExForum box office. Fans can also take advantage of significant savings by purchasing a Pepsi Family Value plan which includes four game tickets, four Pepsi fountain drinks and four hot dogs for as little as $48.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration and Game Schedule