One of the best moments of last weekend’s Nike World Basketball Festival came when the USA national men’s and women’s teams connected with thousands of military members and their families through the Hoops for Troops program.
In coordination with the U.S Department of Defense and in support of the government’s “Let’s Move” initiative, USA Basketball ran a number of youth clinics for sons and daughters of American servicemen and women, made special appearances, and ran open practices with troops and their families.
U.S. team member Carmelo Anthony jumped at the chance to express his gratitude. He said, “We are incredibly fortunate to play basketball for a living, and on this global stage, we can’t really show our country enough of how much we appreciate what our troops do out there on the real battlefield. At the end of the day, they’re our country’s true heroes.”
The weekend’s festivities culminated with an exchange of flags: military officials gave an American flag to the U.S. basketball teams to take with them to London. Coach Mike Krzyzewski remarked, “the exchange of flags from the real people who are actually serving our country on a daily basis—to us, this is the single biggest gesture they could provide in support of us; and our acceptance of it is to honor them.”
New York Knicks forward Tyson Chandler spoke on behalf of Team USA: “We’re going to cherish this. Every time we approach the game, every time we get tired, all of us should take a look at this flag and understand what we represent and who we’re representing over there.
“This experience has reminded us that team USA is the biggest team you’ll ever be on…and if seeing us go for gold in London can make their day any easier…well, you know we’re going to go hard for them.”
Stay tuned to STACK.com for more news and photos from the Nike World Basketball Festival.