Players, union, league get into the act

Originally Published: January 7, 2005 news services

Tracy McGrady, Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal and four other NBA players represented by agent Arn Tellem have raised $208,000 to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The players promised to donate $1,000 for every point they score in games played this week.

Kobe Bryant

Tracy McGrady

The NBA players' union has decided to donate $500,000, and the NBA will match the gift, a league spokesman said Friday.

The donations are to be made to UNICEF, NBA spokesman Brian Flinn said.

McGrady scored 26 points and another contributor, Rockets teammate Bob Sura, had 20 in Friday night's 111-104 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles. Bryant finished with 27 points.

O'Neal scored 32 points Thursday in the Pacers' 111-98 loss at San Antonio, but said he would give $55,000 -- using the more generous measure of his season-high 55-point game Tuesday in Indiana's 116-99 home victory over the Bucks. That likely means his agent, Tellem, also will be contributing $55,000. He has said he'll match the highest donation of the players he represents.

Jalen Rose of the Toronto Raptors, and Pau Gasol and Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies also took part in the $1,000-per-point donations to UNICEF.

Rose, who scored 21 points in the Raptors' 107-105 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in Toronto on Friday night, decided to donate $44,000, corresponding to his career-high point total achieved on March 16, 2002, as a member of the Chicago Bulls against the Rockets. Gasol had 20 and Miller 16 in the Memphis' 84-76 home victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday.

"I first talked about it with Jermaine and Tracy right before New Year's. We talked about different ideas, and that's how it started," Tellem said.

On Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards sold "Tsunami Relief Bands" for a minimum donation of $2, with all proceeds going to UNICEF. The Wizards wore the wristbands during their game against the New Jersey Nets.

Jermaine O'Neal

Tellem said the program, called "Shoot-a-Thon," hopes to raise about $250,000.

The seven players who have pledged donations are all represented by Tellem's agency, SFX.

"I think when more players find out about it, they'll get involved," Rose said Tuesday. "Sometimes you hear a lot of horror stories about relief funds not getting to designated party, but in this case UNICEF will make certain that won't happen."

Bob Sura

The support continued to flow. The Atlanta Hawks raised $64,000 for the relief effort Friday night as the team played host to the Sacramento Kings. Hawks forward Antoine Walker led the way with a $20,000 donation.

Also, the Harlem Globetrotters plan to donate at least $100,000 and match funds raised by the sale of game programs during their 2005 tour to over 200 cities in the United States and Canada. The money raised will also go to UNICEF.

"As concerned global citizens and ambassadors of goodwill, the Harlem Globetrotters feel strongly about doing something to help those who are suffering, especially the youth," Globetrotters owner and chairman Mannie Jackson said.

The New York Times reported on Friday night that the New York Knicks' Stephon Marbury, Allan Houston, Nazr Mohammed, Vin Baker and Moochie Norris said they would donate $1,000 for each point they score against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

Jamal Crawford said he would do the same when he returns from the injured list, The Times reported. Other Knicks are making private contributions to the relief effort, the team said.

The Associated Press reported Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants President Bush to downsize his inaugural ball and send the savings to tsunami victims.

The billionaire is urging readers of his Web log to ask politicians to reset their priorities.

"Mr. President, it's time to show that leadership. It's time to set an example," Cuban wrote. "Cancel all but the most basic inauguration requirements."

Inaugural events -- paid for by private donations and not public funds -- include black-tie balls, a parade and star-powered events.

"Instead of shaking hands all night and being driven from party to party, send them a thank you card letting them know that the corporate and individual donations that had been earmarked for fun was now going to help more people than they could ever imagine," Cuban wrote.

Cuban, whose past Web log entries have included his desire to start a hedge fund for professional gamblers, also criticized Congress for frivolous expenditures and chastised everyone involved with elaborate events for the Jan. 20 inaugural.