Harrison Barnes Basketball Court Dedication

MESQUITE – After 10-year-old Chance Garza listened to what Mavericks’ forward Harrison Barnes and his wife, Brittany, had to say about the benefits of being part of the Boys & Girls Club, he looked at the brand new basketball court he was standing on and came to a grand conclusion.

“I think this is great,” he said. “If I ever become a president of some company, I’m going to donate money to a place like this,”

Harrison Barnes heard that and lost a little bit of his legendary composure.

“That’s good, I like that,” he said. “When I was in the club, in Ames, (Iowa), there’s a picture of (ex-NBA players) Fred Hoiberg and B.J. Armstrong coming to an autograph signing. And I’m one of the kids in line getting stuff signed by them.

“So it’s kind of funny how it all comes full circle. Somebody did something nice for you, you do something nice for somebody else. Who knows? When he’s the president of AT&T or something, he can come redo this whole building maybe.”

Barnes and his wife supplied the $60,000 that it took to build the court at the Mesquite Boys & Girls Club. He did the same for the branch in Oak Cliff last year.

It’s something he’s passionate about and that Barnes is happy to do. The Mavericks’ foundation has done similar work with court dedications around north Texas. But Barnes takes special pride in working with the Boys & Girls clubs.

“Growing up, my mom would make sure I went to the club almost every day,” Barnes said. “Having that safe environment was huge for me. Having somewhere that I could play basketball, get my homework done, have computer access. Hopefully these kids can have the same kind of opportunity. I always wanted to be in the NBA, but to be able to come back and tell these kids that I was in the exact same situation, from a small town, and this is what it did for me and hopefully can do for you, that’s pretty cool.”

Barnes’ work in the community is becoming the stuff of legend. In addition to the two basketball courts, he and Brittany have donated $20,000 to needy families to ensure they have a merry Christmas. And there are other initiatives, including his numerous basketball camps for kids, for which he has partnered with former Dallas chief of police David Brown, who was on hand for Monday’s court dedication in Mesquite.

Barnes understands that doing things like this are part of the learning process for somebody who has his eye on perhaps a potential political career when his basketball career is over – admittedly many years down the line.

Getting involved in the community at the grass-roots level should provide excellent learning opportunities when it comes to dealing not only with constituencies, but also political figures.

“At the core of the message is that we care about them,” Brittany said of the kids at the club. “It’s just important to let these kids know we’re in it with them and believe in them.

People think he’s senator-like, but he’s really fun-loving.”

Asked if there was a future for her as a senator’s wife, Brittany laughed and said: “I think it’s a little too early to tell. But that is something we’re passionate about, digging into the community and making a difference.”

Added Harrison: “I don’t know about that. We’ll see.”

But he was quick to add that things like a basketball court can make a big difference in any area.

“At a young age, sports can do so much for kids” he said. “Having a good court is one of the biggest challenges. And now, hopefully, kids are going to want to come here and do things, do activities, whatever it may be. I know for me, having a good court as a kid was a big thing. When it was wintertime, you weren’t going to shovel snow just so you can shoot at frozen rims.”

That doesn’t happen as often in Texas as it does in Iowa, but the point is made. Just ask Chance Garza.

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