How the NBA says it will give back to Utah during All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake

When the NBA comes to town next week, they’re running multiple social and community initiatives.

Attorneys volunteer at last month's Clean Slate Expungement Summit, working with around 400 residents to take advantage of Utah's new Clean Slate laws. (Photo courtesy Utah Jazz)

NBA All-Star Weekend isn’t all about basketball stars.

Last week, we wrote about 14 events that are happening in Salt Lake City during All-Star Weekend from Feb. 16-19 for fans. But the league and local representatives are working together on more projects and events that try to serve a greater interest in Salt Lake City and Utah. The league says, in all, over $3 million is being spent on charities, money that comes from the NBA and the NBA Players Association.

Here’s a rundown of All-Star related charity events and efforts next week. These ones aren’t open to all fans, but are targeted at supporting different groups, especially kids, around Salt Lake City.

Clean Slate Expungement Summit — Jan. 24

Utah’s Clean Slate Law, passed in 2019, allows people with eligible criminal records to have them expunged. Around 800,000 Utahns have criminal records, but the goal of the legislation is to give many a second chance. On Jan. 24, the city, the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, Utah Jazz, Clean Slate Utah and Rasa hosted a summit at Vivint Arena where Utahns could meet with a pool of attorneys volunteering their time, about 400 people attended.

LGBTQ youth support — Feb. 15

NBA leaders — including Jason Collins, the first NBA player to come out as gay — will meet with local Utah LGBTQ+ youth and their parents at Encircle and the Utah Pride Center on Wednesday, Feb. 15. Collins, along with former WNBA player Jamila Wideman, among others, will engage with youth about their LGBTQ journeys. Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith will attend the conversation, too.

NBA pitch competition — Feb. 16

Think “Shark Tank” but to NBA-adjacent executives. Eight up-and-coming Black entrepreneurs, including four from Utah, will have the opportunity to pitch their products or businesses to a panel of judges and investors across the NBA community. Jazz majority owner Ryan Smith, minority owner Ryan Sweeney, and American Express chief marketing officer Elizabeth Rutledge are among the judges.

Diverse-owned business to business development event — Feb. 16

The NBA, in collaboration with the Jazz and Living Color Utah, will host a business-to-business development event on Feb. 16. The idea is to engage with and support local diverse-owned businesses on opportunities with each other and the Jazz. The event will feature moderated panels and networking groups.

New and updated rooms at Lincoln Elementary — Feb. 16

State Farm and the NBA has provided funding or remodeled two sections of Lincoln Elementary School in South Salt Lake. First, a STEM education room, will include new tech and library resources for the school. Second, the school’s gymnasium has been remade, with new equipment, lighting, flooring, and basketball hoops. The dedication of the new spaces takes place on Feb. 16.

NBA All-Star day of service — Feb. 18

Every year, NBA employees gather at the site of NBA All-Star Weekend on the days before the game to take part in a community service project, and Salt Lake City is no exception. This year, over 500 employees “including current players, legends, guests, community partners” will work with the Utah Food Bank, Bishop’s Central Storehouse, and Volunteers of America Utah to package and distribute food donations.

Multiple Jr. NBA events — Feb. 18-19

The Jazz and the NBA will host several events geared toward youth basketball participation throughout the weekend. This includes hosting a clinic for girls to play alongside WNBA players for a day, called Her Time to Play. Additionally, 200 special olympic athletes will be put through a skills clinic hosted by the Jazz. A 5v5 tournament and Jr. NBA Skills Challenge on Saturday will include participants from around the country. For wheelchair-bound children, the NBA will put on a basketball clinic with the Wheelin’ Jazz.

They’ll host a “Respect The Game” referee event, telling youth about officiating career paths; a clinic for young referees will also be held with support from NBA refs. Outside of basketball, the weekend will also have a STEM clinic, to teach students about the intersections between sports and science.

All-Star Game donations — Feb. 19

During the All-Star Game itself, $750,000 will be split between two charities’ Utah chapters. Team Giannis’ charity will be Raise the Future and Team LeBron’s charity will be Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. Raise the Future seeks to “reduce the amount of time youth in foster care live without a permanent family;” Big Brothers Big Sisters “creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships” with youth in Utah. Kids and families from both organizations will be part of All-Star Game practice, the pregame draft, and will get tickets to the game itself.

Sustainability efforts

The NBA, in partnership with Clever Carbon, will be handing out quizzes to test people on their own carbon footprint. In a city with well-documented air quality issues, the goal is to make people generally more aware of their own contribution. Throughout the weekend, the league will donate to initiatives to help educate students on environmental issues.

Mental health grants

The NBA Players Association will donate to local Utah organizations that deal with mental health — ones that “support reducing mental health stigma” and “increase access to mental health services.” No word yet on which specific donations will be made.