That's the first in a series of 60-second public service announcements produced by Joakim Noah's charitable organization imploring Chicago residents to come together and stem the rising tide of violence that has swept away dozens of lives this summer.
The Chicago Bulls center introduced the "Chicago, Stand Up" campaign at a youth-focused event at a community center in the city's Near West Side section held Friday, the day before his Noah's Arc Foundation hosted a basketball tournament for 18- to 24-year-old men from different parts of Chicago aimed at emphasizing messages of peace, unity, competition and togetherness. (The Friday event also included Noah playfully swatting young fans' shots, as befits his status as the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year.)
"This Peace Tournament at the United Center is very, very special to me," Noah said, according to Blake Schuster of the Chicago Tribune. "Sports are something that unites people. To be able to do that where we play and compete every day is special."
While the tournament was a one-day event, the PSAs — which are narrated by rapper/actor Common and feature Noah alongside his Bulls teammate Derrick Rose, young people from the city and a variety of community activists — will continue to air. Noah hoping that with enough passionate repetition and substantive action, the message — to turn away from violence and retribution, and to turn toward more positive pursuits, whether they be athletic, artistic, professional or otherwise — will be heard.
“The summer months bring a lot of violence, and we felt it was urgent to get this PSA out now in order to bring some hope, change and support to the community,” Noah said, according to Maudlyne Ihejirika of the Chicago Sun-Times.
More tangible efforts will be needed to quell the violence that has resulted in 222 homicides in the city in 2014 thus far, according to RedEye Chicago. Getting your arms around a problem so daunting, so pervasive, isn't easy, but Noah remains committed to doing what he can to get the ball rolling. From Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago:
"This city has given me so much, it's hard to know what's really going on a couple blocks from here," on the West Side, Noah said. "The South Side is close. This is where I live. I live in Chicago now. I just want to do my best. I don't know all the answers. At the end of the day, I just want to go out there and help, because this is just as important to me as winning a championship." [...]
"It's not about legacy, it's not about none of that," Noah said. "I don't care about that. It's about helping people. At the end of the day, that, to me, is bigger than basketball.
Here's more on the PSA unveiling from CBS 2 in Chicago:
Hat-tip to For the Win.
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