Feel-good stories are what make the NBA so special.
Highlight reels, superstars, record-breaking performances and championships, among other things, all make the association great. However, there are times when communal purpose and responsibility trumps everything.
This is one of those times.
UPDATE: Monday, Feb. 17, at 6:00 p.m. ET by Dan Favale:
Grow's ceremonial signing has been made official by the Sixers:
---End of update---
Philadelphia's official announcement offered the following additional details:
Grow has become an inspiration to the Sixers organization, as his story has swept the nation. Grow, who has Down syndrome, has served as his high school basketball team’s manager for four seasons. His coaches put him on the court for the team’s final two matches of the season, and his first varsity games, in which he scored 14 points, including three 3-pointers and a buzzer beater.
After he signs his two-day contract, Grow will eat dinner in the players lounge, tour the practice facility and receive Sixers gear. He will join the team on the floor toward the end of practice, meet and shoot around with his new teammates, be greeted by his coaches.
This is just wonderful.
Grow, age 18, was featured in a Feb. 8 YouTube video in which he drained four three-pointers in less than two minutes for his high school's varsity basketball team, the Owls, on Senior Day, according to Philly.com's Matt Breen.
With every shot Grow made, the crowd and his teammates erupted in what was a quintessential display of unity. More importantly, it wasn't an anomaly or singular act for the Owls. This type of unification, this connection between Grow, his teammates and the game of basketball extends into traditionally menial activities, such as practice.
"Grow worked on his three-point shot during Bensalem’s practices this season," wrote Breen. "And the Owls do not end practice until Grow hits a free throw."
That's teamwork. That's community. That's what the Sixers are taking one step further.
As part of his two-day contract, the 76ers' Sam Hinkie, president of basketball operations and general manager, said Grow will participate in pregame activities before the Sixers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Feb. 18, complete with his own locker and a custom jersey. Grow also will "watch pregame warm-ups, take part in the high-five tunnel when players take the court for the game and stand with his team during the National Anthem."
Finally, Grow and his teammates will take the court during a timeout for a "special presentation."
The Memphis Grizzlies recently did something similar, when, per WMCTV.com's Ari Alexander, they ceremoniously "drafted" eight-year-old Charvis Brewer, a devoted Grizzlies fan who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Moments like these—when the sport of basketball promotes community and treats enthusiasts like extended family—are why the NBA is great.
Kindhearted acts most certainly take place off the basketball court and outside the association, and those same acts deserve no less recognition. The NBA has the means to deliver messages and to help lead by example, through unconventional, highly publicized practices that remind us of how precious and reassuring life can be and how meaningful and profound the game of basketball actually is.
"It’s tough to describe," Owls coach John Mullin told Breen.
Anything worth describing always is.
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