DALLAS – Some bad experiences on the basketball court was one of the reasons Harrison Barnes wanted to engage in a teachable moment with athletes from the Dallas Independent School District.
Earlier this month, Barnes visited Dallas Lincoln High School and shared with members of the boys and girls basketball teams the virtues of wearing a mouthguard while playing in a basketball game. It was one of those ‘been there done that and paid a heavy price for not wearing the mouthguard’ moments for Barnes.
“I’ve had my nose broken and some teeth chipped while I was in the NBA because I didn’t wear a mouthpiece,” Barnes said. “Now that I wear a mouthpiece, now that I wear protective gear, it helps, just because you’re going in the paint, you’re rebounding and elbows are flying.”
“If you get hit in the face now, you feel it a little bit. But now it’s not nearly as bad.”
Barnes teamed up with Shock Doctor and McDavid to donate a Super Fit basketball mouthguard, an NBA-branded mouthguard, a McDavid HEX shooter sleeve and a pair of McDavid HEX leg sleeves to all 15 players on Lincoln’s boys basketball team, and all 15 players on Lincoln’s girls basketball team – along with nine other Dallas ISD high schools: Adamson, Madison, Molina, Pinkston, Roosevelt, Samuel, South Oak Cliff, Spruce and Sunset high schools.
Between the 10 DISD schools, they will be rewarded with 600 mouthguards, 300 shooter sleeves and 300 leg sleeves.
LaJeanna Howard, the girls basketball coach at Lincoln, is grateful for the kind gesture that Barnes bestowed upon her team.
“Harrison Barnes and the Dallas Mavericks giving us protective equipment that’s truly necessary is an awesome experience for the kids to be able to witness and be a part of,” Howard said. “The kids don’t understand as well as the adults do how important having protective equipment is and having things that they will need. So we’re very thankful for Harrison in choosing Lincoln to be part of this movement.”
Lincoln’s boys basketball coach, Cedric Patterson, said the complimentary equipment is something he and his players will truly treasure.
“I want to thank the Mavericks and Harrison Barnes for coming out and donating the mouthpieces and the other equipment for our guys and our young ladies,” Patterson said. “And also just coming out and speaking to them. That’s important to them, so I want to thank Harrison and the Mavericks. It’s a good thing for Lincoln High School because it brings good publicity to our school and our basketball program, and I love it.”
Actually, it was a total surprise to the basketball players at Lincoln that Barnes was going to show up at their South Dallas school and present them with the protective gear. So they were all in awe when he walked through the doors as they were assembled on their basketball court.
“As an NBA player and just as somebody in the community, I think it’s good for kids to see you just so you can talk to them,” Barnes said. “You can actually speak life to them and say, ‘Look, this is how I made it, this is my experience, here’s some things you should do and here’s some things you shouldn’t do,’ and go from there.”
Kennedy Taylor, a senior guard on Lincoln’s boys basketball team, said he’ll cherish the valuable advice Barnes shared with the Lincoln basketball players. He is also giddy about receiving the equipment.
“I just want to thank the Dallas Mavericks, Harrison Barnes, Shock Doctor and McDavid,” said Taylor, who has verbally committed to play for Texas State University. “You need a mouthpiece to protect your mouth so you won’t get busted lips, and you need the arm sleeve.”
Kennedy Milton, a senior guard on Lincoln’s girls basketball team, also expressed gratitude for the gifts that were presented to the Lincoln basketball players.
“We always get out on the court and we always need protection, and I’m very appreciative of this kind gesture from McDavid, Shock Doctor and the Dallas Mavericks,” said Milton, who has verbally committed to attend Oral Roberts University. “It was a great honor.”
Raymond Williams, the brand manager for Shock Doctor and McDavid USA, said he spent the past two NBA offseasons devising a plan to get Barnes involved with his products.
“We had floated the idea by Harrison because we knew (in the summer of 2016) he was new to the city,” Williams said. “This was a way to get him involved in the city in his first one to two years. Harrison was on board for it and we were extremely excited for it.”
Still, associating a mouthguard with basketball, Williams admits, is not a natural thing.
“We’re actually trying to get products in front of kids and be able to speak about it,” Williams said. “I think the thing we’ve struggled with in the past is when kids think mouthguard, they think football. I think with technology and being able to show them a product, present it, get it in their mouth and let them play with it, it’ll change their perspective on what mouthguards can do for you.”
In other words, Barnes is hopeful the knowledge he shared with the Lincoln players about using protective gear will impact their lives in a positive way.
“Most people believe a mouthguard is cumbersome and it’ll just throw you off your game,” Barnes said. “But the best ability is availability. You hate to miss a game because of a chipped tooth or a missed tooth or a bone bruise.”
All chipped teeth and bone bruises aside, Barnes is aware of how beneficial it is for him to make appearances at various inner-city schools.
“It’s huge to come out here and talk to these kids about protection, just in terms of taking care of your mouth and taking care of your body from the bumps and bruises,” Barnes said. “More importantly than that, I think it’s great to come out here and just let the kids see pro players interact in their community, and coming out and supporting them and hanging out with them and talking to them and giving them words of encouragement.”