x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Bryant and other NBA heroes step for Japan

But most NBA players are very good people whose honourable deeds are too often overshadowed by a few tabloid headlines.

They do not get a lot of credit, NBA players. Oh, they do for their incredible skill. For feats on the court that 99.9 per cent of the world can only dream about.

But, as individuals, it is something else. Their reputation is just above snake oil salesmen.

Their press away from the court too often centres on out-of-wedlock children, run-ins with the law, egos out of control and a nauseating sense of entitlement. David Stern, the commissioner, had to clamp down on fights in the stands and a too-ghetto attire.

But most NBA players are very good people whose honourable deeds are too often overshadowed by a few tabloid headlines, and now they are stepping up again, helping out in an area that really has little personal connection to their lives — the devastation that has rocked Japan.

Major League Baseball has a long history with Japan, but there is only the thinnest of connections between Japan and the NBA. Yuta Tabuse was the first Japanese player to make an NBA roster when he played briefly for the Phoenix Suns in 2004/05.

Still, several of the NBA's biggest stars - 20 players in all - pledged to donate US$1,000 (Dh3,670) per point scored for select games over the weekend.

Kobe Bryant, whose father was coaching in Japan when the earthquake struck, did a public service announcement for the Red Cross asking for donations.

And Tabuse has returned to the US to organise a charity game with NBA stars. Small things, maybe. Quiet, but important things.