Notes from NBA Community Relations League Meeting

Posted by Eric Bleier on August 05, 2013

Joel and NBA Commissioner David Stern

Joel and NBA Commissioner David Stern

Joel Katz attended the League's annual CR meeting and brought back thoughts, some directly from Commissioner Stern

The Grizzlies Foundation’s own Joel Katz was in New York City for several days at the NBA Community Relations meeting to present information about employee volunteer and mentoring programs as a means for letting residents of the city see the involvement of team personnel other than coaches and players and at the same time helping team personnel feel a part of their city.

Grizzlies employees currently take part in volunteer opportunities such as the annual holiday toy drive, NBA Green Week clean up/revitalization activities and various other opportunities throughout the year. Additionally, several Grizzlies staff members spend dozens of hours as mentors at programs near the Grizzlies offices.

The Grizzlies have been no strangers to being involved in the community from the outset. The Grizzlies made a $5 million pledge to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital after moving to the Memphis in 2001 to support the construction of the Memphis Grizzlies House, a short term care living facility. Since then, the team has provided over $30 million in grants to area non-profits largely which serve youth through education and/or mentoring. The Grizzlies have been awarded national (Steve Patterson Award, 2007) and international (Beyond Sport, 2012) awards for sports philanthropy. Most importantly, in the 12 years the team has been in Memphis thousands of youth and their families have benefited from programs operated or supported by the Grizzlies.

The NBA League office, at the direction of Commissioner David Stern, made both League-wide and team community relations a priority. At the meeting, Commissioner Stern told attendees that Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer a trend in doing business but an integral part of doing business, especially as sports teams like the Memphis Grizzlies and other NBA teams try to integrate themselves into the DNA of their respective cities.

Success on the court will certainly help in helping any community believe in their team but making a lasting impact on the youth and families of a community, as is the goal of the Grizzlies Foundation, cannot be accomplished on the court.

Katz had the opportunity to ask Commissioner Stern what advice he would give to a young professional in the sports business industry and Stern’s response was “Read. Read everything.” As one of the leaders of American professional sports, you do not get to be one of the smartest guys in the room without reading everything.

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The Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation is committed to serving Memphis youth through education and mentoring.