There were plenty of NBA legends on hand at Franklin Elementary School in east Houston’s Magnolia Park area.
Basketball Hall of Famers George Gervin, Calvin Murphy and Bob Lanier were there to read some of the 500 books the initiative is giving to the school.
But the man who got the most media attention for the first hour or so was Robert Horry. Horry helped the Houston Rockets win back-to-back championships in the mid-nineties and has won seven NBA titles altogether.
Here he is, reading from “You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?” to a group of students.
“Me, I’m an action kind of gal – well, I’m a guy but you know, I’m just reading from the book. I live for danger and suspense.”
Horry says initiatives like this not only help kids right now but hopefully will encourage those same kids to give back to the community later in life. Besides that, he says he’s having a great time.
“It’s always fun. I mean I really enjoy hanging out with the kids. It brings out the youthfulness in me, you know, enjoy them and see their faces light up as you read books to them, interact with them, have fun with them. It’s just a wonderful thing, I enjoy it to the utmost.”
Altogether, the NBA and BBVA Compass Bank are giving out 1,000 books, 60 tablet computers and two laptops for Franklin and Eliot elementary schools. They also refurbished the schools’ basketball courts and gave new furniture to Eliot Elementary. And besides reading, the NBA stars guided students through basketball and fitness activities.
Karen Dixon with BBVA says teaching kids a love for reading and fitness as well as financial responsibility is key for them having a successful life.
“They have a love for fitness at an early age, so they’re healthy. They have a love for reading, so that they build a knowledge base and a love for education long-term. And then financial literacy gives them the responsibility component to be wonderful citizens and just responsible citizens long-term.”
James Harden looks over a student's shoulder at computer programs promoting financial responsibility.
NBA Hall of Famers and Robert Horry aside, when current rockets star James Harden joined the effort at Franklin Elementary, all eyes were on him.
Coming off a late night loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles, Harden says he wanted to be here, despite getting little sleep.
“Most important thing, maybe of the whole weekend, just to be here with the kids and encourage them to read and want to be at school and want to be successful. Sleep doesn’t matter when I’m here.”
Harden will represent the Houston Rockets at the All-Star Game this Sunday at Toyota Center.