Before embarking on the long task of a grueling NBA season, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson and other members of the team's front-office took a visit to San Quentin to play in what was a pickup game in more ways than one.
Inside Bay Area's Monte Poole reports the 48-year-old, heading into his third year at the helm in Oakland, was joined by, among others, general manager Bob Myers, assistant coach Brian Scalabrine and assistant general manager Kirk Lacob for a jaunt to the nearby state prison for a friendly game of basketball.
Of course, a pickup game in San Quentin is hardly a normal daily occurrence for anyone outside those concrete walls, especially those commanding an NBA franchise.
As you can see in the video posted at Inside Bay Area, it was all for a great cause, showing the prison population that there are those who will go above and beyond to lend a hand.
Jackson explained the impetus behind the game. "It's basketball, but, for the most part, this is about impacting lives."
He continues with an emphasis on treating everyone with dignity, even the incarcerated.
I just want people to know these are regular folks that made a mistake, some greater than others. They deserve to have somebody put an arm around 'em, high-five 'em, and remind 'em that life ain't over.
People say stuff like, 'Be careful in there.' I just want folks to understand that these are our brothers, our cousins, our uncles and our dads.
Jackson wasn't the only one moved on the day, because Myers, a former player himself, issued that the inmates were as kind and as respectful as any you would find outside San Quentin.
The best thing about it for me is to realize you shouldn't judge people until you get to know them. In playing here a couple times, I can say I've never had a bad interaction. You hear more complaining and griping on the playground than you do over here. These guys are respectful and they play the game the right way. I really enjoy it.
The game is something of an annual ritual for Warriors officials wishing to set a good example for those who truly need it.
Poole writes that a few years ago, the senior financial analyst for the Warriors, Ben Draa, teamed up with Prison Sports Ministries' Bill Epling and began coming to the prison in a wonderful show of generosity.
Lacob, who made the trip with Jackson, heard of the basketball missions and has since made a reported 20 trips over two years. He states, "We have a great time. We're able to give a little something to them, a little hope from the outside. They tell us all the time it's their favorite day of the week."
The sentiment and sacrifice isn't lost on the inmates who recognize the kind gesture, and hopefully pay it forward one day.
Daniel Wright, an inmate who coaches the prison squad, speaks to exactly that. "I've explained to the young guys that these guys are millionaires with lives we can't even imagine. They're taking time out of their lives, away from their families, to come into prison, into this type of atmosphere and setting, to play ball with us."
In case you're wondering, the Warriors representatives defeated their prison counterparts, 136-121. Of course, that is hardly what matters, because the day wasn't about wins, losses or missed shots.
It was about basketball players, incarcerated or otherwise, playing a game they love and getting the support that may just make a valued impact in their lives.
Hit me up on Twitter: