INGLEWOOD — Smiles on energetic faces were aglow over the new basketball courts at Crozier Middle School.
That’s because the student body and staff at the school were greeted to their own early Christmas present when the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Clippers Foundation and the city of Inglewood greeted them with the newest round of the Clippers Community Courts Dec. 21.
“This is the part that is closest to my heart because I’m doing the same thing back home as well. I know exactly what it means to renovate courts and social impact that it can have on kids,” said Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute. “So every time we get an opportunity, I make it important to come out to get the message out that if you want to make a big change in the community, it starts with small things like this.”
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, City Councilman Eloy Morales Jr., players from the Clippers and representatives from the LA Clippers Foundation celebrated the special occasion with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the new and improved and colorful basketball courts for the middle school, which sits directly behind City Hall.
“We’re really excited about the new courts here at Crozier,” Butts said. “We’re even more excited that the indoor court will be re-surfaced. We’re very excited, very excited about the future of Inglewood. We’re also more excited about the role that the Clippers have played and continue to play and will play in the future.”
The event was part of the Clippers’ Week of Giving. The Clippers, working in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, are in the process of restoring or renovating 350 basketball courts throughout Los Angeles County. Clippers on hand for the basketball clinic and distribution of gifts to Crozier students, included Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell, Tyrone Wallace, and a Moute.
Clippers President of Basketball Operations Gillian Zucker and Inglewood Unified School District Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana spoke to the students. Zucker made the announcement the school’s gymnasium would also be refurbished.
“We’re really pleased to give back to this city,” Zucker said. “It’s important for us. One of the reasons that it is most important to us is because we really want to be leaders in this community. You’re fortunate that you’ve been represented by fantastic leadership in this city. I think that second to none is your own mayor.”
Outside of sitting and listening to the dignitaries speak, Crozier students got to have their fun, going over fundamental basketball drills such as dribbling, playing defense and shooting with Gallinari, Harrell and Wallace. The biggest surprise for the students besides having the opportunity to have NBA players come to their school was going home with a bag full of goodies.
“This is where it started for me — on the blacktop, putting in countless amounts of hours working on my game as well as building friendships” Wallace told the students. “For us, it’s important to be able to help and give back, and we hope you guys enjoy the courts.”