Winning off the court

The NBA’s New Jersey Nets are winless so far this season (that Miami loss was especially hard to take. Double team D. Wade will ya!!).  The team’s top player, Devin Harris, has been hurt for much of the season and his return will certainly help change the team’s fortunes. Devin, however, has kept himself busy rehabbing and with a host of community-based efforts.

One of the key points of the article was Devin citing the works of his coaches and senior teammates who gave him early exposure to the power of giving and charitable efforts. As more players participate in such sports and non-sports related endeavors, the culture of giving will permeate throughout the league.

The full article by Richard Sandomir from the New York Times can be found at, with an excerpt below.


A Net Reaches Out to Fans, Wherever They Are

By Richard Sandomir, November 11, 2009

Nets guard Devin Harris sat at a table between the bread section and the produce aisle at a Pathmark here signing autographs and quietly representing a team that plays in New Jersey but wants to escape to Brooklyn.

Harris, the team’s starting point guard and only star, is trying to do it one local appearance at a time.

“I’ve always been a fan of being personal with fans, to see me up close, rather than just giving money to charity,” he said, as he signed his name to the small yellow picture frames given to about 50 shoppers and fans by Western Union, a Nets sponsor that invited Harris to the supermarket, where it has a money transfer outlet.

“I just like connecting with people,” he said, a rack of Bundt cakes behind his chair.

Since his arrival at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands in February 2008, Harris has told the team to keep giving him community assignments. “I try to fit everything in,” he said.

His injured groin has limited him to two of the Nets’ seven games this season, all of them losses.

While he was growing up in Milwaukee, Harris said, the Bucks’ coach, George Karl, and guard Ray Allen were models of community involvement. When he played in Dallas, his Mavericks teammates Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard inspired his civic work ethic.

“I learned that it’s expected of me,” said Harris, who has a foundation, 34 Ways to Assist, to help children.

His off-the-court schedule shows that he had breakfast with a hero police officer at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Hackensack, N.J., helped clean Branch Brook Park in Newark before its Cherry Blossom Festival and took a cooking class at Fabulous Foods in Moonachie, N.J., with youngsters from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Morris, Bergen and Passaic counties.

(The article continues at