BAGRAM, Afghanistan– Two days before tip-off at the 66th Annual NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, the USO and the NBA brought the excitement of the big game to service members stationed in the Middle East through a USO/NBA Hoops for Troops USO tour.
The tour, which visited several locations in Afghanistan, featured NBA legends Caron Butler and Sam Perkins, Vice President of NBA Referee Operations Bob Delaney and current Washington Mystics WNBA player Ivory Latta. The trip marks the third USO tour for Perkins and first for Butler, Delaney and Latta.
“With all the stuff going on in the world and the things that they have to be prepared for at any second, for them to just say, you know, that this is the highlight of our year [is awesome],” Butler said.
The tour included the first-ever Hoops for Troops USO basketball tournament, played by servicemen and women stationed in the Middle East, a skills competition, a Hoops for Troops USO Town Hall and an All Star-Themed USO Viewing Party.
“USO tours and NBA initiatives like this are so important to our men and women in uniform,” Perkins said. “They do more than just entertain them, they bring them a piece of home and let them know that America cares about them and hasn’t forgotten them.”
The NBA has a long-standing history of working with the military as part of the Hoops for Troops program and its ongoing work with the USO. Over the years, countless members of the NBA family have participated in USO tours. Among them are Ray Allen, Karl Malone, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, Al Horford, Joe Johnson, D.J. Augustin, Brook and Robin Lopez, JaVale McGee and Mike Miller, among many others.
“Doesn’t matter whether this basketball court was in Chicago, LA, somewhere in New Jersey, Iraq, Afghanistan,“ Delaney said.
"It’s still basketball and that game of basketball unites us.”
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