Following up the NBA’s efforts made for social justice in the 2020 playoffs, the Association took more major steps to fight racial injustices during the All-Star festivities on March 7th 2021. The NBA made a point to highlight historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) throughout the evening.
Despite some players like Lebron James and many others expressing to the media that they “…have zero energy and zero excitement about an all-star game this year” (due to a shortened off-season, less nights off in between games all going on during the COVID-19 pandemic) they could not help but be excited about the NBA’s efforts to advertise HBCUs.
To counter the lack of funds and advertisement to HBCU programs (especially sports), the NBA put them in centre stage with an HBCU-themed court that was designed by current HBCU students and alums. Many other initiatives were taken as well, such as HBCU jersey patches, HBCU marching bands, HBCU alum referees, a $3 million dollar donation to an assortment of college funds in place for black students and many more.
Former HBCU athlete from Tennessee State Robert Covington participated in the skills challenge, as the only NBA player from an HBCU, sporting a jersey from his alma matter rather than his current NBA jersey. Despite losing in the first round of the skills challenge, Covington noted “I’m the only HBCU alumni in the NBA, I’m the lone survivor… with everything going on towards HBCUs, it’s only right I was a part of it”.
With most elite NBA prospects, the biggest colleges are their immediate choice as they have the most recognition, but hopefully after this All-Stars, break incoming college recruits acknowledge that HBCUs have all the same qualities to offer and more.