Chicago will get a warmup for the NBA’s 2020 All-Star Game when The Support Group, a non-profit founded by Bennie Henry and Tim Hardaway Sr., hosts it’s own NBA sanctioned All-Star game for charity Sunday afternoon at Wintrust Arena.
The game features current and former NBA players such as Sterling Brown, Shannon Brown, Jabari Parker, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jahlil Okafor. Antoine Walker and Tim Hardaway Sr. will serve as head coaches of each team.
“Any time I sign up to do something, I like to win,” Walker said. “I’m gonna leave it at that.”
The Support Group was founded in 1989 to inspire and educate underserved youth in Chicago with after-school programs.
“Many years ago, I went to him [Tim Hardaway] and said I wanted to put together some programs where we help young adults with mentoring, entrepreneurship and so on,” Henry said. “I told him my concept, and we founded this non-profit organization.”
It started with just one program at one school, Cole Elementary. Since then, TSG has grown to feature seven different programs and works with 16 schools on the South, West and North Sides. The non-profit also hosts an eight-week summer program that started in July.
Today, TSG’s programs include “lunch with a leader,” a peace ambassador program, a teen empowerment summit and various basketball clinics throughout the year.
The first game was played in 2001 and served as an opportunity for basketball fans to see some of their favorite NBA players at little to no cost. It also gave NBA players such as Antoine Walker, Juwan Howard, Bobby Simmons and Corey Maggette an opportunity to get a competitive game in during the offseason.
Now, on its 30th anniversary, The Support Group is bringing the game back — along with a high school all-star game and a celebrity game.
The return of the all-star game means so much to Henry, Hardaway Sr., Walker and so many others who have been part of this game and non-profit since its inception. The bigger picture means even more.
“This game will come and go,” Henry said. “TSG’s longevity is what we do throughout the year to keep these kids off the street.”