Remembering and Honoring an Icon

Former NBA great Mark Jackson relaxes for a spell at the John Wooden Memorial Celebrity Basketball Game in Hawthorne, California./Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Actress Maya Gilbert (Sex Chronicles) take in the festivities at the John Wooden Memorial Celebrity Basketball Game./Photo by Dennis J. Freeman
Former NBA great Mark Jackson relaxes at the John Wooden Memorial Celebrity Basketball Game./Photo by Dennis J. Freeman

Celebrities and stars honor UCLA and basketball legend John Wooden. 

Hawthorne-John Wooden has meant so much to the game of basketball that it is only fitting the game honors him. That’s what happened recently when a cluster of local celebrities, former NBA players and street ballers came together at the Hangar Athletic Xchange in Hawthorne, California to pay homage to the legendary UCLA coach who passed away earlier this year.                                                                                                                      

Former Los Angeles Lakers’ stars Rick Fox and Mychal Thompson, as well as ex-NBA player and television analyst Mark Jackson and Southern California hoop legends Marques Johnson and Lisa Leslie (Morningside High, Los Angeles Sparks), joined in the fun to assist the HAX Foundation present the John Wooden Memorial Celebrity Basketball Game.

Actors Bill Bellamy, Guy Torre, Pooch Hall (The Game), Maya Gilbert (Sex Chronicles) and Khleo Thomas (Holes) added their own flair to the celebrity basketball game, which also featured a slam-dunk contest that got all of the packed auditorium on their feet and hollering. Fox and Jackson, who starred with the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers in his heyday in the NBA, looked as though they were still in playing shape, displaying their once top-tier skills, breaking some ankles along the way.

Over 300 people attended the event that featured a halftime ceremonial wall dedication to Wooden, who received the Hax Foundation’s lifetime achievement award from the foundation last year. The “Pyramid of Success” pays tribute to Wooden’s tireless work to see student-athletes perform at a high level on and off the court. The purpose of the celebrity basketball game was to raise enough funds to assist underprivileged students with scholarship money. Jim Wooden, Wooden’s son, came out to speak to the crowd during the festivities that honored his father.  

Last year, the foundation was able to raise enough money to provide four scholarships to local student-athletes. Tickets for the event ranged from $10 for general admission to $100. At the end of the day, the pricing of admission didn’t matter too much as the locals decided to come out and support what is poised to an annual event set up to help student-athletes in need. This is why they play the game.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1093 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.