NBA to help out in Sichuan

Updated: 2012-08-23 08:04

By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)

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Work will come before play.

The NBA will put its focus on earthquake stricken areas in Sichuan province in the lead up to this fall's China Games.

Former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming and Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler will spearhead campus activities and clinics the weekend before the sixth edition of the league's tour of China.

At the first leg on Friday, two-time All-Star Butler will visit Mount Qingcheng High School in Dujiangyan, a city destroyed in the devastating Wenchuan earthquake on May 12, 2008. He is scheduled to instruct students at a mini camp.

Bulter will return with the Clippers to play against the Miami Heat in two China games in Beijing's MasterCard Center and Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz Arena on Oct 11 and 14, respectively.

Yao, who shifted his focus to charity after retiring last year, will join Bulter on Saturday in Leshan to attend the final of the Yao Foundation Hope Primary School basketball season.

The season, launched in April, was a charity initiative by Yao's foundation. It encompasses 47 schools across Sichuan and was supported by NBA Cares.

It focused on youth development and giving back to the community through basketball, with a goal of providing underprivileged children with a chance to learn about the game and sportsmanship.

Yao and NBA China plan to work with sports authorities to develop a high school coaches training program; a basketball training center in Shanghai for both amateur and professional players of a wide range of ages, and an annual basketball camp that will focus on developing elite young players.

"The game of basketball has been so good to me, and while I have left the court, I will never leave the game," Yao said.

"I look forward to working with the NBA to give more young people the opportunity to play basketball at an elite level and help more people in need."

"Yao is in a truly unique position to help grow the game of basketball in China and we welcome him as an advisor to NBA China and this partnership will strengthen our on-going collaboration with the CBA to enhance the development of youth basketball in China," said NBA China CEO David Shoemaker.

(China Daily 08/23/2012 page24)