A group of athletes with intellectual disabilities is poised to take on some of the world’s best basketball players in a first-of-its-kind matchup.
As part of the NBA’s All-Star weekend later this month, a dozen Special Olympics athletes from across the country will team up with basketball legends Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Dikembe Mutombo and Sam Perkins in addition to current WNBA players to play a unified game.
Much like the All-Star game itself, players will be divided into two teams — one representing the Eastern portion of the country and another for the West. But for the special “unified” exhibition game, teams will feature a mix of athletes with and without disabilities.
The approach is modeled after Special Olympics’ unified sports program, which is offered at schools across the country and encourages inclusion of students with disabilities.
In addition to the celebrity players participating in the game, NBA stars Kevin Durant, Kemba Walker and Derrick Williams are also expected to be on hand for the event Feb. 26 in Orlando, Fla.
The NBA All-Star game brings together the best players from throughout the league for a special, nationally-televised game once a year. This is the first time that unified sports will be included as part of the lineup of events surrounding the game.