ATLANTA — Amidst the backdrop of Hawks guard Jeff Teague sinking six consecutive three-pointers during his warm-up routine, the Big Five speakers of Dominique Wilkins, Mike Glenn, Andre Aldridge, Bob Rathbun and Jerome Jurenovich held court for a special group of enterprising youngsters from Atlanta’s After-School All-Stars program.
And that was just a small part of the ASAS’s day-long excursion at Philips Arena, culminating with the Hawks taking on the world champion Heat on Monday, as Atlanta continued its tradition of hosting a game on the national holiday honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Approximately 30 pupils from the MLK and Sylvan middle schools (6th, 7th and 8th grades) attended the Hawks game, as a reward for their exemplary service to the Atlanta community.
In conjunction with Fox Sports South, the youths helped revitalize the schools’ campuses for the Martin Luther King National Day of service — painting and distributing fruit baskets to families in the schools’ neighborhoods.
After their volunteer efforts, the After-School All-Stars then accompanied the Fox Sports South Girls, Canicka and Morgan, on the Fox Sports Fan Express bus to Philips Arena. From there, the youths had a VIP tour of the facility, visiting the locker rooms and then having a pre-game courtside chat with Wilkins, Aldridge, Glenn, Jurenovich and Rathbun.
Wilkins, the Hawks’ all-time leading scorer (23,292 points with Atlanta) and the color anyalyst for Atlanta’s TV broadcasts, impressed youngsters with tales of his high-flying days in the NBA (1982-99).
Glenn, a 10-year NBA veteran (1977-87), was also happy to share stories from his playing days with the Knicks, Hawks, Bucks and Buffalo Braves (now the L.A. Clippers). Glenn, a Hawks studio analyst for Fox Sports South, is the first NBA player to launch a basketball camp for deaf children.
The Q-and-A session with the kids was partially of the rapid-fire variety, with Wilkins and Glenn feeding off the respective wisdoms of Jurenovich (the Fox Sports South studio host), Aldridge (Fox Sports South broadcaster) and Rathbun (the Hawks’ play-by-play TV man).
During the group conversation, a number of kids remained in awe of their surroundings, staring at the NBA court with wide eyes.
And that was before LeBron James made his first appearance on the court.
After-School All-Stars is a national non-profit that serves inner-city youths across the country by providing daily after-school programs on school sites. In metro Atlanta alone, ASAS serves nearly 3,000 children at 15 middle schools.
The ASAS (founded in 1992) is also a leading national provider of year-round, school-based, comprehensive after-school programs.
During the school year, children participate in free programs that include academic support, enrichment opportunities, and health/fitness activities. The organizationâs mission is to keep children safe and help them succeed in school and in life.
Nearly 90,000 families of poverty benefit from the program, covering 14 regions of the United States: Atlanta, Chicago, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, North Texas, Ohio, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, South Florida and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the After-School All-Stars’ Web site.