One of the guys happened to be a 7-foot-3 megastar named Kristaps Porzingis, and his height left the kids buzzing with excitement.
“Whoa! How is that possible?” one of the children asked as he slowly gazed up at Porzingis with wide eyes and words of astonishment.
KP understood the pulse of the moment and suddenly reached up and touched the ceiling as dozens of children clapped and squealed with delight. For a moment, Porzingis was just like one of them.
“I’m still a big kid at heart,” he grinned.
In a nearby gym, dozens of other children bounced to the beat of drums as Mavs swingman Reggie Bullock and second-year wing Josh Green played a game of Knockout with the youth in a pep rally-style environment that felt more like a Saturday night than Monday afternoon (Bullock took home the win).
This wasn’t just any ordinary day at Dallas ISD’s Obadiah Knight Elementary School. The Mavs were there to celebrate a new school year and new basketball season with a technology twist.
“It’s so important for people to feel seen,” said Katie Edwards, Dallas Mavericks senior vice president of external affairs. “It’s important for the children to know that we believe in you and we’re rooting you on. There are so many people here in our community who cheer on the Dallas Mavericks when we play on the court, and we want to root on our kids in the classroom.”
Edwards joined the players Monday to announce the Dallas Mavericks’ plans to donate 80,000 over-the-ear headphones for all DISD elementary students. The goal is to provide technology resources as students return to the classroom and others participate in hybrid learning this year.
The franchise also gifted 15,000 Mavs Bluetooth earbuds for DISD faculty and staff to thank them for their continued educational support and dedication to the future generation.
All 250 DISD campuses will also receive Mavs spirit gift bags, including custom jerseys for their school.
“With the platform that I have, I feel like it’s my duty to go back to these schools and show my face and interact with the kids,” Bullock said. “I was once in their shoes, and I just want to give them light and let them know that the sky’s the limit.”
The players started the afternoon upstairs in the library and they opened the event with encouraging and uplifting words. Next, they helped the youth select new Mavs headphones for the computer lab.
“It’s good to be able to come out and use our platform to help these kids,” Bullock said. “They see us on TV and on the Internet, but we definitely put smiles on a lot of faces.”
Working with kids comes naturally for the duo because Bullock is a father of three young children, and Green has a school-aged little sister. They, along with Porzingis, said the children reminded them just how special the people are in North Texas.
“I haven’t been back to elementary school in a while,” said Bullock, “so it was nice to walk through the hallways. It was great to see the Mavs headphones. The way technology is today, it’s a needed thing for them. I think it was great what they did today.”
The event was also extra special for many of the children and parents for another reason. School leaders say that Obadiah Knight Elementary School is rich with culture and “the school serves a 99 percent Hispanic population.”
The young students and the adults who lined the streets outside the campus seemed thrilled to meet Porzingis, who speaks fluent Spanish.
During the past two seasons, the Latvian donated $100K to support childhood hunger across North Texas. He said visiting with the school children was just another extension of his commitment to improving the lives of young people in the area.
“Spending time with them is everything to me,” Porzingis shared. “They’re our future.”
Edwards, who also serves as president of the Mavs Foundation, said Monday’s donation is just the start of many remarkable events and activities the team has planned this season.
“The Dallas Mavericks believe so strongly in supporting education and giving our kids everything they need to succeed. And technology is a big part of that,” Edwards said.
Story: Tamara Jolee | Photography: Monica Borja
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