NBA stars set to coach local players at St. Sabina Church Peace Games – CBS Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) – Basketball is back.

One of Chicago’s biggest games returns this weekend at St. Sabina Church in the community of Auburn Gresham. NBA stars will drag local players into a famous showdown known as the Peace Games.

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CBS 2’s Lauren Victory got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look.

The Saint Sabina gymnasium is ready to host a full and overcrowded hall this weekend for the 9th Chicago Peace Games.

“We talk to young men before they play and it’s like the Final Four,” NBA referee James Capers said with a laugh. He’s been a staple of the Peace Games since its debut in 2012 and is ready for anything at Saturday’s event.

The annual basketball showdown features four teams from sometimes warring neighborhoods.

“That first game, we had to bus the members because of gang lines or territories,” said Lauren Gillian, partnership director for Connor Sports. The company helped found the tournament almost ten years ago and it has grown since.

“From the bus in year one to carpooling in year two to a mixed team in year three,” said Gillian.

“It’s the most real thing I’ve done since I came to the NBA,” Joakim Noah told NBA TV in a 2013 interview. Noah is just one of the big names who made it happen. a lot of notoriety in games over the years.

Other famous participants include Derrick Rose, Isiah Thomas, and Jabari Parker.

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For 2021, pros like Bobby Simmons will be coaching.

“First I have to see what talent I have and now I have to figure out how to put the pieces together,” Simmons told CBS 2 in a Zoom on Strategy interview before Saturday.

All-Star Antoine Walker is also excited to lead a team both on and off the pitch. Pre-game mentoring is an important part of the event.

“I’m a kid from downtown Chicago. Obviously, I was very lucky to come to the NBA and play ball and not everyone has that opportunity, so I just repeat to them that there are other avenues in life, there are other avenues in life. there are other things that you can be great at, you don’t necessarily have to focus on just playing basketball, ”Walker said of his message to young people.

“When the [professional] players talk to them, when dignitaries talk to them, they listen to everyone’s story because everyone has a story, ”said Capers, the NBA referee, speaking of the power of sports icons taking the lead. time to connect with the community.

The pandemic canceled last year’s Peace Games and Connor Sports’ Gillian believes the pre-game roundtable needs to make up for lost time.

“From a social justice perspective, obviously up to the isolation of COVID. A lot of frustration, a lot of conversations took place, what should we do next? ” he said.

Actor Bentley Green touches on some of these difficult topics on the TV show he’s currently filming in Chicago. He’ll be playing basketball alongside some of the local guys and isn’t worried about calling. He looks forward to the discussion on the sidelines and domination on the court.

“Bring in great energy because the energy will already be there,” Green said.

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Anyone in the public can watch the Peace Games starting at 11 am on Saturday, September 18 at St. Sabina, 1210 W. 78th Pl. Admission is free, but arrive early – the event always draws a large crowd.

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