Kennedy H.S.,Paterson,N.J…….. Tim Thomas is on the left coast now residing in California after spending 13 years in the N.B.A. But his heart is still in Paterson which is why he and his Paterson friends James Hargrove and Larry Johnson helped create the PNBA league which has gotten some of the best players in Paterson and the surrounding areas to get on the hardwood!
The league which stands for Paterson Needs Big Brothers Assistance is using this 12 team 15 week league as a stepping stone to spreading it’s anti-violence theme called Guns Down, Life Up. It’s message on the court is Shoot Baskets, not People!
It was an exciting day for the league as Thomas came from Cali to lace them up for the Knicks team as they played the league undefeated Spurs team. In the building for the event was Paterson Highschool legends like Hargrove( Kennedy HS), Rory Sparrow(Eastside HS), Tony Murphy(Eastside HS) and Deshaun Williams( Paterson Catholic). The game was secondary though as there was big giveaways for the kids such as Nintendo X-Boxes, Bikes and backpacks! The atmosphere was festive and the hope is for the good spirits this day brought can continue in the future! ( Murphy, Sparrow, Thomas and Hargrove pictured)
NOTE: The Spurs proved to still be the top team in the league as they defeated the Thomas led Knicks 104-94! Antoine Morgana led the scoring for the spurs with 25 points, Antoine Obery added 23 and Omari Knox chipped in 15, Thomas finished with 26, as did Paterson’s Karon Abraham! Rashard Bishop added 18 for the Knicks team!
James Hargrove and Larry Johnson grew up in Paterson and still work with young, impressionable people in their hometown every day.
They’re well aware of the daily dangers kids face in the city, especially during summer months. That’s the primary reason Hargrove, a Kennedy basketball star in the late 1980s, and Johnson, once an Eastside football standout, have teamed with former NBA forward Tim Thomas to form the PNBA: a pro-am summer basketball league scheduled to begin June 12 in Paterson.
The 12-team, 15-week league has scheduled two games apiece on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Doubleheaders will be played alternately at Eastside and Kennedy, and no admission will be charged.
Organizers of the PNBA, short for Paterson Needs Big Brothers Assistance, also want to use the league to spread the anti-violence messages of an organization called Guns Down, Life Up, which uses “Shoot Basketballs, Not People” as its slogan.
“The main focus is to spread the message in our city to stop the violence, put the guns down and have fun,” said Johnson, a child-care worker at a group home in Paterson. “We have fun with sports and that’s basically what we’re doing — giving a little back to the city and having kids come out and watch some basketball.”
Hargrove, Johnson and Thomas, a former Paterson Catholic star, are trying to get as many current and former basketball players from Paterson to play. Their intent is to have some of the best basketball players the city has produced to play against each other.
Hargrove, who led the Atlantic 10 in scoring his senior season at Duquesne, and Thomas, a 1997 lottery pick who played 13 NBA seasons, including two stints with the Knicks, will be teammates when Thomas returns to his hometown this summer. Nets point guard Tyshawn Taylor, former Pitt point guard Travon Woodall and onetime Villanova guard Dominic Cheek also have committed to participate.
Current players from Eastside, Kennedy, Passaic and Passaic Tech also will play in the league, which will be composed of teams named after NBA franchises. Concession stands will be set up each night, with all proceeds benefitting the boys and girls basketball programs at Eastside and Kennedy.
“It’s very important to do something like this because it seems like kids are lacking that place to go, to hang out and see a Tim Thomas play, or another pro that’ll come in here and play,” said Hargrove, who works at Kennedy. “It’s about getting our community together and trying to get these kids focused, instead of having them out in the streets.”
Roster spots remain open and require a $75 fee, to pay for officials throughout
The PNBA website, which pays homage to Paterson‘s rich basketball history and soon will list the league’s daily schedule, can be viewed at thepnba.org.
“It’s important that we do something like this,” Thomas said, “where the whole community can benefit from it throughout the summer. We want to deal with the gun situation in our city.
“And the league will give guys from the new generation an opportunity to play against some of the legends who’ve come from the city, and give the high school kids a chance to play against professionals and guys who are playing in college. I’m looking forward to it.”
For more information, contact Hargrove (firstname.lastname@example.org), Johnson (Johnson.email@example.com) or Ron Smith (Ronj_@msn.com), another league organizer.
Tim Thomas, the most successful basketball player ever to emerge from Paterson, N.J., plans to give back to the “Silk City” by launching the “Paterson NBA” Pro-Am this summer.
The league is working in partnership with the “Guns Down, Life Up” organization and with Ballers Convention, which promotes the slogan, “Shoot Basketballs, Not People.”
The league will have 12 teams, including two comprised of local high school players, and will run on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from June 12-September 15 at Paterson Kennedy and Paterson Eastside High Schools. Fans can attend games for free.
Thomas and current NBA players Tyshawn Taylor andKenneth Faried are among those on the rosters.
“This is mainly for our city,” Thomas, the 36-year-old former Paterson (N.J.) Catholic star who played for numerous NBA teams, including the Knicks, 76ers and Bulls, told SNY.tv.
“We’re not concerned with media coverage. We’re just trying to do this for our city and save our youth. There’s a lot of crime and murders.”
Thomas said the league wanted to promote a “generational” feeling in which high school players could compete against current college and NBA players, as well some of the legends of Paterson like Thomas andJames Hargrove.
“We’re just trying to to bring awareness to the youth to put these guns down and keep them out of our system so they can be successful at something in their life besides getting caught up in the streets,” Thomas said.
Two 12-man high school teams will compete in the league and will feature six players each from Kennedy and Eastside and four apiece from Passaic and Passaic Tech.
Thomas said it was also possible that various college players from Paterson such as Myles Mack of Rutgers and Fuquan Edwin of Seton Hall could also compete in their spare time.
“If they’re in town I would love for them to come and play a game or two,” Thomas said.
“That way the younger kids and the high school kids can have an opportunity to see them and play against them,” Thomas said.