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Grambling, Southern to Headline NBA HBCU Classic at 2023 All-Star Weekend

At last year’s NBA HBCU Classic, participating schools Howard and Morgan State each received $100,000 to support the “student experience.”

The NBA HBCU Classic will return in 2023, this time with a new conference and new schools. The NBA has lobbed its flagship HBCU event to the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) as both Grambling State University and Southern University will play in Salt Lake City at the University of Utah’s Jon. M. Huntsman Center as part of NBA All-Star Weekend in February.

As part of the event, NBA pioneers Bob Love, an alum of Southern, and Willis Reed, a Grambling State alumni, will be honorary captains of the game.

“My pathway from Southern to the NBA has opened countless doors for me,” said Love in a release. “I am proud to support the NBA in using the game of basketball to celebrate the rich history of HBCUs and drive opportunity for the next generation of leaders both on and off the court.”

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Reed added: “I credit my career in part to my time at Grambling State. The HBCU Classic will provide what is to most a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play on the NBA stage and serve as a platform for those interested in the business side of the game to gain industry insight and make lasting connections.”

After having success at the 2021 All-Star Weekend, the NBA re-upped its commitment to HBCUs by unveiling plans ahead of the 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. The league hosted the first-ever HBCU Classic during NBA All-Star 2022 in Cleveland, where Howard University and Morgan State University played. Both schools received $100,000 to support the “student experience.” During All-Star Weekend 2022, 11 HBCU students served as paid NBA interns for the league’s HBCU Job Shadow program.

The court signage during the NBA x HBCU Classic at the 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland. (Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

It also launched a fellowship earlier this year that ran 10 weeks for a projected 50-plus undergraduate participants. Students were split across the NBA and WNBA league offices as well as both leagues’ teams.

“This was top of mind after the first NBA HBCU Classic was held in Cleveland, which ultimately was a natural next step in the development of how the league supports HBCUs in perpetuity in alignment with our principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars said in a statement to Boardroom. “The inaugural NBA HBCU Classic and additional HBCU programming were tremendous successes and provided access to opportunities for HBCU students and alumni over the course of the weekend.

“Looking ahead to NBA All-Star 2023, it was important to continue to give HBCU basketball programs our platform, provide them resources and showcase the HBCU legacy of producing Black excellence both on and off the court. Our collaboration with HBCUs is longstanding and we hope to continue to feature more schools during All-Star in the future. We’re looking forward to bringing both the Grambling and Southern rivalry and great basketball to Utah.”

In the NBA HBCU Classic’s first rendition, more than $1 million was allocated to support HBCUs through the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and several academic institutions.

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About The Author
Randall Williams
Randall Williams
Randall Williams is a Staff Writer covering sports business and music for Boardroom. Before joining the team, he previously worked for Sportico, Andscape and Bloomberg. His byline has also been syndicated in the Boston Globe and Time Magazine. Williams' notable profile features he has written include NFL Executive VP Troy Vincent, Dreamville co-founder Ibrahim Hamad, BMX biker Nigel Sylvester and both Shedeur and Shilo Sanders. Randall, a graduate of "The Real HU" - Hampton University - is most proud of scooping Howard University joining Jordan Brand nearly three months before the official announcement.