The game is Sunday at 6 p.m. EDT at the Toyota Center and will
be televised by TNT at 11 p.m. Participating players will
donate funds and supplies valued at more than $1 million for
victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"The game is a show of our support and solidarity for those
affected by this natural disaster," Smith said. "As
professional athletes, we've been very privileged, and this is
one way we can help take care of our own."
Before the game, the players will distribute truckloads of their
donated goods and supplies to shelters throughout the Houston
area, many of which are housing displaced New Orleans residents.
Items will include food, clothing, water, toiletries and other
Ticket proceeds will be donated to charity. Special ticket
arrangements will be made for Hurricane Katrina victims.
Relief is arriving from various points around the NBA. On
Tuesday, the NBA Players Association unveiled "Operation
Rebound," a fund-raising initiative that will contribute at
least $2.5 million to the victims.
That total included individual pledges of $100,000 from Bryant,
the superstar guard of the Los Angeles Lakers, and $60,000 from
Golden State Warriors guard Baron Davis, who played for the New
Orleans Hornets before being traded in February.
On Wednesday, Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin and wife Irene
announced they will kick off the team's Katrina Relief Fund
drive with $100,000. All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas bought
$18,000 worth of essential clothing and toiletries and delivered
them to the D.C. Armory, which is serving as a temporary home
for some evacuees.
On Saturday, the Milwaukee Bucks contributed $500,000.
In addition to being home to the NBA's Rockets, Houston is an
offseason hot spot for players looking for competitive offseason
workouts. A handful of players in Sunday's game have ties to
Houston or New Orleans.
Others planning to participate are former NBA All-Star forwards
Charles Oakley and Derrick Coleman, Indiana Pacers forwards Ron
Artest and Jermaine O'Neal, Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, New
York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury, Boston Celtics swingman Paul
Pierce, Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning and Memphis Grizzlies
guard Dahntay Jones.
Last year, Artest and O'Neal lost millions of dollars due to
suspensions for fighting but are giving back. Mourning, who has
undergone a kidney transplant, holds an annual charity game in
Miami known as "Zo's Summer Groove."
At the Players Association news conference Tuesday, Marbury
began crying while speaking about the tragedy that has left
perhaps thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.
"Just giving money, that's nothing," he said. "You're supposed
to do that. It's just about the way we treat people."
TNT's telecast team will include analysts Smith and Charles
Barkley, Ernie Johnson as host and play-by-play announcer and
Craig Sager as sideline reporter.