The National Basketball Association has just kicked off its 2021-2022 regular season campaign. However, the league is already looking ahead to February. In an effort to strengthen its relationship with historically Black colleges and universities across the country, the NBA has announced its first-ever "HBCU Classic." Set to take place on February 19 at Cleveland State University during 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend, the inaugural "HBCU Classic" will feature Howard University and Morgan State University. The game will serve as a bridge between the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend practice session and the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend Saturday slate that includes the dunk contest, three-point contest and skills challenge.
“As an association, the NBA should be commended for the foresight and willingness to address important issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion," Morgan State Vice President Dr. Ed Scott said in a statement obtained by The Hill.
"The creation of the NBA HBCU Classic is a clear demonstration of the NBA’s commitment to promoting HBCUs and showcasing the talented young men and women on our campuses."
The NBA's effort to support HBCUs does not end there. The league is also looking to build a new fellowship program for students at historically Black institutions beginning in 2022. A select group of students will be financially supported as they learn the ins and outs of basketball operations throughout the league.
“The NBA family recognizes the storied and prominent role that HBCUs have played in our society for decades. We also recognize that within our commitments to increase Black representation across the league and grow the game, we can create educational, athletic and career opportunities through engagement with these institutions,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum added in a statement obtained by The Hill.
The "HBCU Classic" is one of the many efforts taken by basketball stars and entertainers to support HBCU basketball programs this winter. In late November, Phoenix Suns Point Guard Chris Paul will host his very own "HBCU Classic" featuring Winston-Salem State University, Virginia Union, West Virginia State University and Morehouse College. Actor Michael B. Jordan is also hosting the "Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic" featuring Hampton University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina A&T University and Howard University.