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BUDDY HIELD, BRANDON INGRAM, FRANK KAMINKSY, MARQUESE CHRISS, AND DARIO SARIC NAMED HONORARY COACHES FOR SIXTH ANNUAL NBA CARES SPECIAL OLYMPICS UNIFIED® BASKETBALL GAME AT NBA ALL-STAR 2017

– Stephen Curry to Tip Off Game at 9:30 a.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 18 –

NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2017 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Special Olympics today announced that New Orleans Pelicans guard and 2017 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge participant Buddy Hield, as well as fellow BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge competitors Brandon Ingram, Frank Kaminsky, Marquese Chriss, and Dario Saric, and ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, will serve as honorary coaches for the East and West teams for the sixth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game at NBA All-Star 2017.  For the second consecutive year, reigning two-time Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry will tip off the game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday Feb. 18 at 9:30 a.m. CT.

The exhibition game pairs 12 Special Olympics athletes – including two from Louisiana – representing eight countries with NBA and WNBA players and legends, including Hall of Famer and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Legend Muggsy Bogues, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and WNBA Cares Ambassador Ruth Riley for the East, and four-time NBA Champion Horace Grant, three-time NBA Champion A.C. Green, 2016 WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker and three-time WNBA Champion Lindsay Whalen for the West.

Showcasing the unifying power of sport since the first game at NBA All-Star 2012, the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game creates a diverse and inclusive environment for athletes with and without intellectual disabilities.  Prior to the game, NBA Cares Ambassador Felipe Lopez, WNBA Cares Ambassador Ruth Riley and NBA Legends Horace Grant and John Starks will join athletes from Special Olympics Louisiana for a basketball clinic on court.

“We’re thrilled to bring the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game to New Orleans for the second time,” said NBA Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility Todd Jacobson.  “This unified game highlights the power of basketball to break down barriers and bring people together in fun and rewarding ways.”

West                                                                           East

Horace Grant, four-time NBA Champion                   Dikembe Mutombo, Hall of Famer

A.C. Green, three-time NBA Champion                     Muggsy Bogues, NBA Legend

Candace Parker, 2016 WNBA Finals MVP                Nneka Ogwumike, WNBA Champion

Lindsay Whalen, three-time WNBA Champion       Ruth Riley, WNBA Cares Ambassador  

Ayumi Murakami, Japan                                           Franck Koffi, Cote d’Ivoire

Elizabet Reyes, Mexico                                               Aimilia Kouliakioti, Greece (Hellas)

Joseph Ajayi, U.S. (Minnesota)                                Sarah Distefano, U.S. (Florida) 

Gustavo Rodríguez, Panama                                    Colt Harrison, U.S. (Louisiana)             

Jose Zapata, Venezuela                                               Roy Menard, U.S. (Louisiana)

Armand Acrie, U.S. (Virginia)                                   Butti Alsheezawi, United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi)

 

All 12 Special Olympics athletes will join the NBA family for a one-of-a-kind NBA All-Star experience with tickets to the week’s main events and opportunities to meet and greet NBA and WNBA players and legends.

“For the last six years, our athletes have had a unique opportunity to compete alongside NBA and WNBA players on a world stage, showcasing their skills and talents and forever changing the perceptions that exist for people with intellectual disabilities,” said Mary Davis, CEO, Special Olympics.  “Our long-standing partners at the NBA are true believers in unified sports and we are incredibly thankful to their generous support of this sixth annual NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified® Basketball Game.”

For more than 30 years, the NBA and Special Olympics have partnered to bring basketball to Special Olympics athletes and events across the globe.  In addition to clinics in China, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Russia, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, Spain, England, Mexico and Canada, NBA Cares supports Special Olympics basketball tournaments and countless public service announcements and campaigns.