This weekend’s NBA All-Star game was the most unprecedented yet. The COVID-19 pandemic discouraged fans from coming, but yet it also left a benefactor: HBCUs! Learn how they came out on top in this story originally posted on CNN from Amir Vera and Kevin Dotson.
While Team LeBron defeated Team Durant 170-150 to win the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, the real winners of the night were historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The league generated $3 million in donations for HBCUs and made sure every element of the event was geared toward promoting the schools, according to the NBA. Thanks to their win, Team LeBron raised $1.25 million for the Thurgood Marshall Fund. Team Durant also raised $500,000 for The United Negro College Fund.
The game and festivities around the All-Star game were different this year — many of the events that usually take place over a series of days took place in one night. Fans still got to see the amazing dunks, smooth passing and effortless three-pointers. They also got a look into the what HBCUs have to offer.
Atlanta, where the game took place, is home to the largest consortium of private HBCUs in the world — Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University (CAU) and the Morehouse School of Medicine — collectively known as the Atlanta University Center (AUC), according to the consortium’s website.
“It was part of the reason why we’re here in Atlanta,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told the league. “This was an opportunity to focus on the HBCUs.”
As part of that effort to promote and honor these schools, the court was designed by HBCU artists.
Marching bands from Florida A&M University and Grambling State University performed the intros for Team LeBron and Durant, and CAU’s Philharmonic Society Choir performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — also known as a Black National Anthem.
Gladys Knight, an alumna of Shaw University, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The refereeing crew consisted of HBCU graduates from Norfolk State University, Southern University and CAU. “I’m so happy the NBA is celebrating our HBCUs,” Vice President Kamala Harris, an alumna from Howard University, told actor Michael B. Jordan on Sunday.
There are more than 100 HBCUs across the US, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. Most of them were formed after the Civil War to provide educational opportunities for enslaved people who were now free.While they represent about 3% of the higher education institutions, at least 17% of bachelor’s degrees by African Americans come from HBCUs, according to the United Negro College Fund.
CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.