Hoops for Troops
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PHOTOS: 'Hoops for Troops' Hits Hawaii

Thursday, October 27, 2011

By Christian Pelusi 

In their first USO tour, a standout group of young basketball stars brought smiles and thrills to over 2,600 troops and members of their families on a week-long tour to military bases located in Hawaii.

The squad included 2011 league MVP and Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, 2010 Rookie of the Year and Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, Charlotte Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin, Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford, Phoenix Suns center Robin Lopez, New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez, Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee, Miami Heat guard Mike Miller.

Along with autograph and photo sessions, the tour included: meals with the troops; a visit to a wounded warrior center; a tour of a Stryker and Aviation Unit at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu; a youth basketball clinic and a “Hoops for Troops” USO basketball game alongside service heroes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. This USO tour was made possible with help from East West Private, Wasserman Media Group and Carson Wrapped Hershey’s Chocolates.

Hoops for Troops 

Miami guard Mike Miller chats with troops and military school kids over lunch at the Army's Schofield Barracks. “Playing basketball with some of our nation’s bravest service heroes and talking to military schoolchildren has been wonderful,” Miller said. “I look forward to my next USO tour."

Hoops for Troops 

From left to right, Atlanta center Al Horford, Phoenix center Robin Lopez and guard Derrick Rose get geared up for a spin in a Stryker at Schofield Barracks. “I have had a lot of highlights throughout my career and this tour is now among them,” Lopez said. “There is something about talking to service members, listening to their stories and meeting their families and being able to extend my thanks directly.”

Hoops for Troops 

At the Joint Base Pearl Harbor (US Air Force and US Navy) Bloch Arena gym, Al Horford puts the ball in play for the kids during a rebounding drill. After averaging 9.3 rebounds per game last year, Horford is a great resource of knowledge for the young hoopsters. “I am so excited to be here and enjoy some down time with our nation’s military families,” Horford said. “So far, this tour has been enlightening. I’ve learned so much about the important work our troops do for us and I can’t thank them enough.”

Hoops for Troops 

It’s easy for kids to look up to all-star Derrick Rose – literally and figuratively – as a young Matthew does here after a shooting exercise. “Supporting our nation’s military community has always been important to me,” Rose said. “Whether I am extending my thanks to our troops on the front lines, visiting military families back at home, playing ball with wounded warriors, or participating on USO tours like this that are designed to uplift the spirits of those stationed around the globe, it is an honor for me anytime I am able to give.”

Hoops for Troops 

Here the players, including Charlotte guard D.J. Augustin (back right) and trainers gather around the kids as they participate in a “basket shoot-off” contest. “Prior to touching down in Hawaii, I didn’t know what to expect,” Augustin said. “Today, some two days into our trip, this USO tour has been amazing and I hope to do many more in the near future.”

Hoops for Troops 

Time for a team picture as the kids, pros and trainers gather for a smile and a wave.

Hoops for Troops 

Even big men can get up as Washington center JaVale McGee shows off his vertical and his patented “Flying Buddha” move for the kids. “This was a fantastic opportunity for all us and I have enjoyed every minute of it,” McGee said. “I hope to be able to do more things to spend time with our service men and women abroad.”

Hoops for Troops 

The day on Joint Base Pearl Harbor concluded with a game that mixed pros with servicemen in a spirited game. Here, Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans drives to the hoop against Miami guard Mike Miller. Evans said: “It is an honor anytime I am able to give back and I appreciate the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and visit with troops and their families on a USO tour.”

* See a full set of images from the Hoops for Troops tour on our Flickr set.

USO Photos by Dave Gatley 

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