When, about four years ago, the L.A. Clippers made a pledge to renovate all Los Angeles area basketball courts, people thought it was a great idea – but had doubts it would come to pass. Now, thanks to a partnership with the Los Angeles Parks Foundation (and a donation of $10 million), it is reality.
The news, carried in USA TODAY, noted that a total of 350 courts had been rehabbed and were now ready to play. In late June, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti formally opened the last of those, a new basketball court at the Michelle and Barack Obama Sports Center in Los Angeles.
“The City of L.A.'s population is almost 4 (million) people, and 98 percent of them live within two miles of a Clippers Community Court. That means 3.9 (million) people have access to these courts and all of the benefits that come with them," Ballmer said. "With our partners at the Los Angeles Parks Foundation and L.A.’s Department of Recreation and Parks, this is a proud achievement."
Need more good news? Clippers player Moussa Diabaté said the new community court "looks as good as the court in (the Clippers') practice facility."
"The staff that worked on this thing, the contractor, the people from the Department of Recreation and Parks, good job," Ballmer said while enthusiastically flashing a thumbs-up.
The Clippers have certainly done their part. But all across the nation, organizations are offering grants and other forms of financial assistance for those interested in building and/or rehabbing local basketball courts.
Project Backboard: Project Backboard is a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of renovating public basketball courts and install large scale works of site-specific art on the surface. While the organization does not provide funding, it can work with interested organizations to identify funding partners and possible artists. Organizations seeking assistance should be willing to take an active role in getting their courts rehabbed.
Kaboom! Kaboom! originated as a playground construction and renovation organization; however, it has ventured into the multi-sport court arena as well. The work takes three phases: Activation (the interested organization’s work of gathering volunteers, and setting out parameters for the project, including location, definition of what will be included, such as basketball courts, etc.), Design + Plan Day (when the community comes together with a Kaboom! agent to help lay out the project – including kids’ ideas) and Build, where community volunteers team up with professional installers, funding partner volunteers, and KABOOM! to create the finished product.
Kaboom! also continues working within the community to develop programming or events for the new playspace and to promote the community’s ongoing sense of belonging and ownership of the new space. This includes establishing plans for ongoing programming, fundraising, and maintenance, as well as conducting a post-build evaluation.
ESPN Home Court Program: The LISC/ESPN Home Court Program is a collaboration between ESPN and LISC that provides non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations, middle schools and high schools with financing and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety and accessibility of local basketball courts in selected markets. More information on the program, including downloadable information, is available on the site.
NBPA Foundation: The NBPA has provided more than $600,000 in matching player grants over the last two months. In March and April, the NBPA Foundation partnered with 32 current and former players to match their charitable giving and philanthropy in their communities. These included court renovations – a well as other donations to improve the quality of life in various communities.
Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation: The Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a positive impact for underserved boys and girls through sports. It was founded through the vision of, and in memory of, Kobe and Gigi Bryant. In June, Vanessa Bryant and her three daughters –Natalia, 19, Bianka, 5, and Capri, 2 – were on hand with city officials to unveil a new court at the Tustin Recreational Playground in Philadelphia’s Overbrook neighborhood, where Vanessa Bryant said her "husband’s love for basketball all began." (Tustin Playground is one of three Dream Courts created by the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation and Nancy Lieberman Charities).
The courts unveiled as part of the Clippers’ initiative, meanwhile, have been hailed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as a force for change in the community. USA TODAY noted, “In addition to a place to play ball, the newly-updated facilities have also been used as shelters, emergency childcare centers and alternative learning sites in the community during the pandemic. The Clippers Community Courts will also help promote youth sports ahead of the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.”