Some of our favorite local NBA players took a stance against gang violence by attending the Peace Tournament hosted by Father Michael Pfleger at his church’s gymnasium this past Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly, there was a tournament where rivaled gang members dunked it out on a basketball court. The ultimate goal was to have the gang members battle it out on the court and not the streets. The idea is rather genius – change the teens perspectives by putting them in a place where they can see common ground and a basketball court is the perfect environment.
A Bulls trio of Derrick Rose (DRose), Joakim Noah (messy-bun swagger) and Taj Gibson (dunk machine) volunteered to support the cause as well as NBA hall-of-famer Isaiah Thomas. Rose, who was born and raised in Chicago, experienced this violence first hand in schools or on the streets and knows just how important it is to believe in yourself and the difference you can make with hard work and perseverance. You’d be silly not to consider taking advice from an NBA MVP!
The Bulls players and other athletes attended the tournament not to seek attention, but rather to make an impact on the city streets of Chicago. “It’s not about sending a message, it’s about listening to what they have to say,” Noah said. These gang members had the opportunity to see that people care and that there are other ways to live life than through violence.
Saturday was just the start according to Father Pfleger and definitely a step in the right direction for the city. His church is helping individuals get there GEDs and some of the sponsors offered others jobs. He also hopes to make this game an annual event, but they’re going to need a bigger gym!