NBA delivers cheer during the holidays

During NBA Cares Season of Giving, NBA teams and players host more than 250 events to brighten the holidays for youth and families

NBA.com Staff

Cody looked up at the tall man next to him, his eyes expectant. The tall man was holding a Nintendo Labo kit and asked the words Cody wanted to hear: “Would you like it?”

Immediately, Cody answered “Yes!” and the tall man – Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams – put the kit in the Target shopping cart. “I got you, fam,” Adams told Cody in a video the Thunder shared via social media. “This is on me.” Everyone laughed except for the boy’s great-grandmother, Glenda.

“His Christmas would’ve been pretty slim this year,” said Glenda, holding back tears of joy. “I’m so blessed to have [Cody] in my life to raise him.”

All of Adam’s teammates joined him at Target on December 9, where the team partnered with Sunbeam Family Services’ Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program to host the Thunder’s annual shopping spree for the struggling families. The shopping spree was one of more than 250 events that NBA, NBA G League and NBA 2K League teams, owners, players, coaches and other staff participated in during the annual NBA Cares Season of Giving.

“I really wanted to be able to give back to these kids and make sure we send the right message,” said Thunder player Nerlens Noel. “They deserve just as much of a special Christmas as anybody else.”

Making the holidays special is what Season of Giving is all about. All 30 NBA teams hosted multiple events beginning November 19, with several running through December 25. The NBA family has delivered thousands of gifts and meals, brought together generations of fans for movie nights and game nights, held toy and coat drives, spread cheer at senior centers, schools and children’s hospitals, and so much more to positively affect the communities where they work, live and play.

NBA Cares Season of Giving concludes with a unique event on December 25. During the five Christmas Day games, each participating team and their players host special on-court gift presentations for local youth following the national anthem:

  • Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): The Knicks will present a wagon-full of gifts to 32 children from the Department of Homeless Services.
  • Oklahoma City at Houston Rockets (3 p.m. ET, ABC): The Rockets will give gifts to 44 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, Chinese Community Center and Special Olympics Texas.
  • Philadelphia at Boston (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC): The Celtics will host a group of 40 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Boston.
  • Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors (8 p.m. ET, ESPN): The Warriors will surprise a group of 32 3rd through 5th grade students from the Oakland Public Education Fund by inviting them on court for the anthem.
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): Utah will host a group of kids from the Stella H. Oaks Foundation, who will participate in a toy scramble during the first quarter break.

These games, some of the biggest of the season, are the perfect venue to cap Season of Giving, said Tara Schwartz, NBA Vice President of Social Responsibility, whose team coordinates the month-long event.

“It’s a time of year where everybody – players, coaches, owners, referees, legends and teams – are giving back and working to provide happiness to the people who need it most,” said Schwartz. “They took part in 250 events since the Monday before Thanksgiving, benefiting hundreds of youth and families across the country. We love telling that story and want to make sure that the people sitting at home watching understand the incredible impact these players are having off the court as well.”

Back in Oklahoma City, Jerry Boyd certainly understood. He has custody of his four young grandchildren and brought them to Target for the shopping spree. The children looked overwhelmed when they walked into the store.

They were paired with Thunder guard Raymond Felton, who escorted them around the store to pick out gifts.

“You see these grandpas trying to provide for their grandkids and trying to raise them at the same time. It’s tough,” Felton said in the video.

Later, out of earshot of the kids, he said to one of the Target employees, “Let me get a PS4.” He surprised the oldest grandchild with the gift. “Thank you, Raymond,” said the boy, gushing. “He just bought me a PS4!”

“I hope this is something [the kids] remember for the rest of their lives,” Felton said. “[I hope] it’s a moment in their life they always cherish.”