Aug 102010

August 10 Philadelphia Daily News

“This upcoming season could very well be a humbling one for 76ers guard Willie Green.

Minutes will surely be limited for the veteran, entering his eighth season, because of the team’s addition of No. 2 pick Evan Turner, as well as the acquisition of shooting swingman Andres Nocioni.

But nothing will humble Green more than the trip he just completed as part of Basketball without Borders Africa, which took him to Dakar, Senegal, to help instruct the top 60 young basketball players from the continent, on and off the court.

“We just finished delivering malaria nets to houses in the community,” Green said late last week in a phone conversation. “Malaria is a serious killer here of young children and mothers. So anything we can do to help . . . It’s just so sad to see so many infected by something that we in America know little about.”

Malaria is a mosquito-transmitted disease that infects about 300 million people worldwide, killing nearly a million annually. The insecticide-treated nets are set in place to prevent mosquitoes from biting people while they sleep, and also repel and kill the insects.

On the trip, NBA players and coaches participated in community outreach events and activities through NBA Cares, the league’s social responsibility program. In partnership with the nonprofit organization Hoops 4 Hope, the players and coaches led daily life-skills seminars for the campers focusing on leadership, character development and health, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention. Also, the group participated in the malaria-net distribution program in partnership with United Nations Foundation, USAID and the Senegal Ministry of Health; dedicated a new basketball court and held a basketball and fitness clinic for Special Olympic athletes; and opened a computer room, library and study center at the YMCA Senegal.

Though his profession has enabled him to travel the world, it was Green’s first time in Africa, and it affected him to his core.

“It really makes you appreciate the style of living that we are able to have in being fortunate enough to play basketball for a living,” Green said. “Waking up and playing basketball is our way of life, and it affords us a very good life. Being here [in Africa] so makes you appreciate the things we have, the things we love. It really brings you back to reality.”

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