The 17th annual NBA/NWBA All-Star Wheelchair Classic returned to New York City on Thursday as part of NBA All-Star 2015. Nineteen players from the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) took to the hardwood at the Steinberg Wellness Center at Long Island University Brooklyn to compete in the East versus West Wheelchair All-Star game. NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo, NBA Hall of Famers George Gervin and Robert Parish, NBA Cares Ambassador Ruth Riley, and San Antonio Stars Center Jayne Appel all served as honorary coaches for the event.
This marked the first time since its inception that the Wheelchair Classic returned to New York City since NBA All-Star 1998 in Manhattan. The game featured the top athletes from NBA affiliated NWBA teams from all over the country, dividing the players into an East squad and a West. The NWBA East All-Stars were coached by Gerry Fleming, Head Coach of the New York Rollin’ Knicks, while the West squad — which was victorious — was led by Paul Jackson, Head Coach of the Golden State Road Warriors.
“It is pretty exciting, not only because of the return,” said Coach Fleming, ” but because for the first time the New York Rollin’ Knicks are represented as national champions.”
The Rollin’ Knicks claimed the title after they defeated the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks last spring. They are one of several teams sponsored by the NBA.
“Without [their support] this all would not be possible,” said Coach Fleming.
The NWBA was founded in 1948 by American Veterans of World War II, and is recognized by the USOC as the official governing body for wheelchair basketball in the United States. The league is made-up of more than 200 basketball teams within 22 conferences across the country. Those teams are comprised of 2700 members that make up men’s, women’s, intercollegiate, and youth leagues. For more information on the NWBA, please go to www.nwba.org.
Photos by Chuck Marcus (@ChuckMarcus)