NBA All-Star Game Shines a New Light on HBCUs

From+left+to+right%3A+Chancellor+Dr.+Harold+L.+Martin%2C+Taylor+Rooks%2C+CHris+Paul%2C+and+Anita+Elberse+take+a+picture+with+students+and+staff+during+their+visit+at+N.C.+A%26T.

From left to right: Chancellor Dr. Harold L. Martin, Taylor Rooks, CHris Paul, and Anita Elberse take a picture with students and staff during their visit at N.C. A&T.

Alexis Davis, Contributor

All eyes may have been on Team Lebron and Team Durant during this year’s NBA All-Star Game, but HBCUs were the real stars of the night. 

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund was represented by Team Lebron while Team Durant was able to raise funds for the United Negro College Fund. As the night came to an end, the league had raised $3 million for the non-profits.

Instead of fans having to spread their anticipation over the course of a few days, the NBA decided to do all the traditional All-Star showcases in one night. Watching the players navigate through the Skills Challenge, knock down three-pointers and fly high with their dunks is always exciting for fans. This year, the event’s viewers got an inside look at what it means to be a HBCU student. 

This year’s festivities were held in Atlanta, the home of Spelman College, Morehouse College, and Clark Atlanta University.

According to Bleacher Report, many avid watchers of the All-Star activities had their concerns about its location this year. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump to ease the nerves of fans.

“And I’ll lastly say it seems like no decisions during this pandemic come without uncertainty and come without risk,” Silver said. “This is yet another one of them and, yet, it’s my job to balance all those interests, and ultimately it feels like the right thing to do to go forward.”

The NBA took this moment to incorporate the power of HBCUs into every aspect of the night. The court was designed by HBCUs students and officiated by alumni of Clark Atlanta University, Norfolk State University, and Southern University. 

Representing her alma mater Shaw University, Gladys Knight had the honor of singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The musical productions did not end with Knight, Team Lebron and Team Durant were introduced by the band of Florida A&M University and Grambling State University. 

Al Attles, Sr., N.C. A&T Class of 1960 and longtime Golden State point guard was recognized during the game. Attles’ tenure at N.C. A&T included consecutive CIAA titles in 1958 and 1959. In 2019, Attles was enshrined to the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul has been at the forefront of all the recent HBCU advocacy. During the game, a commercial aired with Paul discussing his valued relationship with N.C. A&T while highlighting the true essence of N.C. A&T.

Aside from Paul, other NBA showstoppers have been spotted in HBCU merchandise specifically clothes from Support Black Colleges.

Support Black Colleges came to life in 2012 at Howard University by Corey Arvinger. 

“I started randomly making clothes, but then people started asking to buy them which turned into a business,” Arvinger said to TGS Connect.

Portland Trailblazers Forward and Tennessee State University alumnus Robert Covington saught out to conquer the Skills Challenge in his TSU team jersey. Right after Convington graduated from TSU, he was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 G-League All-Star game. 

Akin Egbokwu, a senior sociology student at N.C. A&T, reflects on how he felt viewing the appreciation HBCUs were receiving while he reflected on what his life was like before he transferred to N.C. A&T.

“I’m excited and proud that HBCUs are finally getting the recognition they deserve,” Egbokwu said. “At a HBCU you will find some of the most hardworking individuals, but we do tend to get overshadowed often. I used to attend a PWI and nothing matched the support I’ve received once I made the transition to a HBCU. Every HBCU deserves the spotlight they are currently receiving.”

With this new recognition and additional funding, HBCUs are here to stay.