NBA's 'White Chocolate' on altruistic visit
“WHITE Chocolate” Jason Williams gave Chinese basketball fans an early New Year gift as the former NBA star visited Shanghai and southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
The former point guard’s journey began last week from Lijiang in Yunnan, where he visited a local school for orphans and joined the children in a folk dance performance.
After arriving in Shanghai, Williams first showed up at the NBA Zone in downtown Xintiandi to interact with children from special schools. Nearly 40 students with intellectual disabilities from Jing’an Qihui School and Changning Special Education School took part in the activity, which was jointly organized by the Special Olympics East Asia Region.
“To be able to spend time with these children and bring happiness to them is the major purpose of this journey,” said Williams.
His second stop in Shanghai was Shanghai Yumiao Primary School for Migrant Workers’ Children in suburban Minhang District. The students could not go back to their hometowns during the upcoming Spring Festival due to varied reasons.
Apart from giving out gifts, Williams held basketball training courses for them and organized friendly matches. The grateful students returned the favor with musical and instrumental performances.
A native of West Virginia, Williams was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 1998 NBA draft. He also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, and got the nickname “White Chocolate” due to his flashy playing style.
He started all of Miami’s playoff games in 2006 when the Heat won the NBA championship. The Heat named Williams one of their top 25 players of all time in 2007.
“I am happy to be still remembered by fans for my playing style and ‘signature’ passing skills,” said the 42-year-old. “I would have held on to my style had I still been playing now.”
Williams’ China visit is part of the NBA’s Season of Giving charity campaign, which aims at allowing the charm of basketball and the care from basketball players to reach people with special needs.
The charity campaign plans to donate sports facilities, including basketballs, to 34 schools in Yunnan and Hunan provinces as well as Beijing City.
Williams’ China tour also kicked off the NBA’s Chinese New Year Celebration activities.
A Chinese New Year-themed short film has been made this year featuring New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis, Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard. More interactive activities will be organized among Chinese NBA fans during the festive period.