Man of the People
Kyle Korver shows his support for Converse and the Chicago United Hoops Classic.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
The score and outcome of the game was irrelevant; it was the message that was most important.
Susan Van Lier, the widow of Chicago Bulls great Norm Van Lier, established a foundation in her late husband’s name and the game itself was used as a fundraiser for both the Norm Van Lier Foundation and Purpose Over Pain, a foundation aimed at stopping violence in the streets of Chicago.
It featured 30 of the best kids that the city has to offer and in an event that was projected to have only 800 to 1000 people show up, there were well over 1700 people in attendance on the Campus of DePaul University’s Sullivan Athletic Center.
The game also had an Open Gym event at halftime, similar to the events that Converse holds every couple of months and different locations around the country. Participating were local kids and even local celebrities like Jarrett Payton, son of the great Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton, Arthur Agee, star of the movie Hoop Dreams and Will (who bears a striking resemblance to Acie Law) from the R&B group Day 26.
Chicago Bulls sharpshooter, Kyle Korver, also stopped by to lend a hand not only for Converse, but for the kids and fans in attendance as well. He and I chatted it up pretty quickly, but it’s always great when I get to speak with him because he’s such a genuinely nice guy that really cares for people and truly understands what it means to others to have someone of his stature come out spend time with them.
Kyle Korver: It means a lot, man. The opportunity that you have as a basketball player to reach out, I think you have to take advantage of that whenever you can. I’ve been a Converse guy for about 5 years now, I’ve been to a lot of these events, I believe in Converse. I think they’re great in the community, and I’m just glad to be a part of it.
SLAM: Given the success that the Bulls are having right now, when you see these kids recognize who you are and scream your name, how does that make you feel?
KK: It’s great. It’s nice to be recognized for what you’ve put a lot of work into. The city has really gotten behind the team this year. I think our team is a team that’s really easy to get behind and enjoy. And we’re in first place. Everyone loves a winner, right? [Laughs.]
SLAM: You said that you believe in Converse. What is it about the brand that makes you feel that way?
KK: Converse is legendary. Converse played a huge role in the evolution of basketball to where it is today; the first basketball shoe, to all of the players that wore those shoes and how they all changed the game. To be able to be a part of Converse now and this new evolution that they’re working towards is really cool.
As for the game, the West Side team gave my beloved South Side squad a serious beat down, but again, that’s not what this was about. It was about fostering competition in the most productive and positive way, encouraging these 30 young men as they prepare to transition from high school over to college, and bringing the entire city together to have a good time because at the end of the day, we’re all just one big family.
But for real, my South Side squad is going to win next year though. Mark my words.
Photos by Mike Ruggirello