The NBA All-Star Weekend will kick off its festivities from Atlanta tonight, with three members of the Portland Trail Blazers participating.
Guard Damian Lillard will be playing in his sixth All-Star Game.
Anfernee Simons will be in the Dunk Contest.
And Blazers forward Robert Covington will take part in the Skills Challenge Competition.
Covington’s involvement is particularly significant this year, given All-Star Weekend’s focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Covington is the only active NBA Player to have graduated from an HBCU.
Recently Covington donated to his alma mater, Tennessee State University for a new practice facility for the basketball team.
Covington talked about the significance of being able to give back.
“It’s beyond important. I’ve built a legacy and impacted lives,” Covington said.
“To do what I’m doing and to have the resources and the people that I’m connected with at such an illustrious university. I’m truly thankful for that,” he added. “I’m still heavily involved and what I’m about to do next is life-changing not only for the school and university.”
The NBA and its Players Association have committed more than $2.5 million in funds and resources to support the historically Black institutions. The NBA has previously featured players from HBCUs but being the only active HBCU alum hasn’t been lost on Covington this weekend.
“It resonates with me every day. TSU has been amazing for me and my life. It’s something that’s truly meaningful to me,” he said.
“I’m the only HBCU alumni in the NBA currently for the last couple of years. I’m the lone survivor. It means a lot to me. With everything that’s going on towards HBCUs, it’s only right that I was a part of it,” Covington concluded.
The Skill Challenge competition is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
The All-Star game will tip-off at 5 p.m. from Atlanta.
Heading into the All-Star break, Covington has helped the Blazers reach 5th place in the Western Conference standings, with a record of 21-14.