Ballin’ for a Cause

Montrealer and Former NBA Champion Joel Anthony Gives Back to His Community Through Basketball

  • Joel Anthony (right) hosted a basketball clinic benefitting his church, Union United Church, this past weekend at Dawson College Photo Laura Lalonde

  • 30 kids were on-hand for local NBA star, Joel Anthony’s basketball clinic this past weekend at Dawson College. Photo Laura Lalonde

As a two-time National Basketball Association champion, Boston Celtics centre Joel Anthony has been a part of lengthy yet rewarding playoff runs with stars like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

However, Anthony’s most recent project, a basketball clinic raising funds for his church in Montreal, is a challenge that puts him at the centre of it all.

“[Giving back to Union United Church] is personal” said Anthony. “I grew up in that church and have been going every Sunday for most of my life.”

The Montreal native was in town to take part in his basketball clinic for the second year in a row, at Dawson College on Sunday, in collaboration with the NBA and Canada Basketball.

All proceeds from the event went to Union United Church.

“It’s a special day because I wanted to do this clinic for the kids,” said Anthony. “I want to be productive with the time that I have.”

The 107-year-old church has been raising money, seeking to reach their goal of $1.6 million by December 2014 in order to refurbish their building on 3007 Delisle St. in Little Burgundy.

Congregation members were forced to relocate to a new building in N.D.G. to hold services once their home building was deemed inhabitable due to the accumulation of mold and water damage.

Anthony’s mother, Erene, has been at the forefront of the church’s capital campaign for funds, and remains optimistic that through events like the Joel Anthony Basketball Clinic, they can reach their goal.

“We’ve been fundraising and still haven’t reached our goal, but hopefully we can reach it by December,” she said. “Any help that we can get certainly helps the fundraising cause.”

The church originally sought a goal of $6 million for a completely new building back in 2011. However, their capital campaign has since been restructured to a smaller goal of $1.6 million.

The church has received funds through concerts, donations from members of the church, and of course, through Anthony’s clinics in 2013 and 2014.

“Hopefully [the clinic] will continue to help,” he said. “I want it to grow.”

About 30 young professional basketball hopefuls attended the two-hour clinic, receiving guidance and training from Anthony and seven other trainers.

They performed drills and participated in mini-games as their parents looked on from the stands, taking photos and videos.

One parent, Shawna Malcolm, a childhood friend of Anthony’s, shared the same enthusiasm that her two sons felt towards the event.

“They were really looking forward to it and I think it [went] really well,” she said.

30 kids were on-hand for local NBA star, Joel Anthony’s basketball clinic this past weekend at Dawson College. Photo Laura Lalonde

As the proceeds from the clinic will benefit Union United Church, the event will also benefit the goal of growing the sport of basketball in Canada.

Sam Morsy, a project employee in marketing and events at NBA Canada, expressed his delight with the event.

“It’s really a good partnership,” said Morsy. “Canadian basketball is on such a rise and to maximize awareness in Canada and involve a veteran in the game like Joel is a great pleasure.

“For us to be a part of this is an honour,” he added. “[Anthony]’s a model citizen for Canadian basketball.”

At the event’s conclusion, kids and parents gathered to take photos with the local NBA star, and awards were handed out to standout players from the clinic. Anthony also gave some advice to all who participated.

“Every dream that you have is possible,” he said. “Whether it is making it to the NBA or being a doctor, everything you put your work and time into, you will accomplish it no matter what.”

Looking on, Anthony’s mother beamed with pride at her son, who has managed to take time out to provide for his church despite his busy schedule.

“I’m proud of him as a person,” said Erene.

“I am glad that he takes time to give back. For me, that’s important. God gave you skills and gifts, and you need to share those.

“That’s something I’ve encouraged him to do and I’m glad to see that he’s doing that.”

To donate funds to the Union United Church’s Capital Campaign, visit unionunitedchurchmtl.ca/give.

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