The day of Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals, a legendary contest between defending champion Boston Celtics and upstart Detroit Pistons, my elementary school held a fundraising fair. It was nothing special, but because this was our family's first event of the sort after we had moved out of the city of Chicago and into a safer suburb, my parents dove into the thing with aplomb. My mother took off of work ahead of business hours to take an early Metra train out of the city, and my father was one of the volunteer dads that actually sat on the plank over the dad-stained water in the money-raising dunk tank.
Following that sunny spring night out, we retreated to our tiny basement den to watch the Celtics and Pistons play a crucial game on TBS; one that featured Chicago Bulls coach Doug Collins as a color analyst in a role that felt very strange to me, because our Bulls had just been defeated by the Celtics a few weeks before that game. I had just turned 7 years old 11 days before this particular contest. Were it not for the dunk tank and the Game 5 ending that resulted, like most sporting events I watched that year, I would not remember any of this.
The children that took part in this re-telling of the introduction and end to Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals are orphans, something that precludes any dunk tank participation or early train home from work. The video, brought to our attention by Trey Kerby at The Basketball Jones, features a startlingly accurate depiction of the TBS (and, from other points in the series, CBS) intros to games in that series with Kenyan youngsters that live in the Grace Care Orphanage. The orphanage holds 200 children, and according to the clip's YouTube description, 150 took part in this re-enactment. The orphanage could use our help. They chose to utilize the power of basketball — and, indirectly, the power of nostalgia — to help get their message across. Watch:
Here's the part of the original clip:
From the YouTube description, here is an intro to the fundraising drive:
100% of proceeds received by Lift The Children will be donated to the GRACE CARE CENTRE in their quest to purchase a field. Additional funds raised will go towards the ongoing funding of the basic needs of other Lift the Children sponsored orphanages.
Currently, the children spend their playtime in a cramped courtyard at the orphanage, and have invented a game they play with rocks that combines hopscotch and rock kicking. There is no space for running around.
Playing sports gives kids confidence, which leads to the breaking down of social barriers OUTSIDE of sports.
This playing field is about more than just allowing 200 orphans to play soccer.
It is about more than getting these kids out of their tiny school, where they stand around kicking rocks all day.
It is about way, way more than all of that.
The harsh reality is that without these basic tools that sport provides, these children will be significantly challenged to survive in a third world country once their time at the orphanage expires.
As an exercise, this is impressive. Children that were probably born a generation after the original game took place, nearly to the dribble, re-enacting this so expertly? Some of these kids may not have been alive during the lifetime of the late Dennis Johnson, who scored the game-deciding lay-up and passed away five and a half years ago.
As a plea for funds to help these children grow and develop within safe housing?
It's touching, it's fantastic, and it's probably something you'll want to pull up again to watch later on Wednesday, or over the extended Thanksgiving break that we all tend to take.
Take some time to contribute to the orphanage, while you're at it.
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