Jazz players lend a helping hand

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With the lockout preventing the NBA players from taking the court, current players are looking to assist in different ways. With the Pro Player Charity Classic, players such as Devin Harris, Stephen Curry, Chauncey Billups, most of the current Jazz roster and our own Jimmer Fredette will suit up for a game Monday in Salt Lake.

NBA players such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade have also organized charity games over the past few months to help raise funds while playing basketball during the lockout.

The game is an effort by the players to raise funds for charities, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, the Special Olympics and Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.

Many of the players feel personally attached to some of the charities involved. Jazz guard Devin Harris is involved with the local Make-A-Wish foundation.

“Devin Harris is the reason why we got involved,” said Katherine Fife, of the Make-A-Wish foundation chapter in Utah. “We’ve had a long history of working with Jazz players, from Karl Malone to Deron Williams.”

Jazz rookie Enes Kanter is raising money for earthquake relief in Turkey, which was struck with a 7.2 magnitude quake that killed hundreds, leaving thousands injured or without shelter. Center Al Jefferson has been involved with the Special Olympics during his career.

Funds will also go toward the benefit of the OI Foundation. The OI Foundation helps patients who have been diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.

Other Jazz players who are getting involved are Ronnie Price and Paul Millsap. The players have been involved with the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home-away-from-home for families to stay close by their hospitalized child.

“The children here love seeing local athletes, it’s something they really look forward to,” said Vickie Moschetti, of the  local Ronald McDonald House. “The kids are so happy to see them in their jerseys, get autographs and take pictures with the players.”

The game will be played at Salt Lake Community Center in the Lifetime Activities Center. The Center, dedicated in January1996, seats 5,000 people. The stadium was chosen due to the intimate environment, giving fans, children and their families the opportunity to be close to the action. The game will be similar in environment to games played at Morgan State University or the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.

Players will sign autographs, take pictures, and do their best to make the children’s dreams become reality before the game. While the players are looking forward to the competition, the focus is on helping those who have received help from the charities involved.

The game will feature Special Olympics athletes playing a basketball game at halftime, with players providing the coaching and refereeing.

Some of the families who will benefit from the funds raised during the game will sit courtside at the game.

The Pro Player Charity Classic is the second charity game in Utah. The first featured NBA rookies under the organization of Jimmer Fredette and was played in Provo. Jimmer’s All-Star game helped raise funds for the Vestibular Disorders Association.

The NBA has officially canceled four weeks of the season, and a new deal is still in the negotiations stage.

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