At times during his four years in Milwaukee – and particularly last week, before his sudden resurgence in the Bucks’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics – Jabari Parker’s defense has been doubted and his effort questioned. And while fans can argue about his level of performance on the floor, Parker’s off-court impact on the Milwaukee community is utterly undeniable.
From spending $35,000 on nearly 2,000 tickets so that Milwaukee Public Schools students could go to games to buying out an entire movie theater for 120 Milwaukee kids to see "Black Panther," mentoring and receiving the MPS Excellence in Education Award last year for promoting school attendance and achievement, helping refurbish city courts and youth centers, speaking out on social justice issues and much more that goes unpublicized, it’s safe to say Parker – a restricted-free-agent-to-be this offseason – is the most actively involved Bucks player in the local community.
Let’s make sure that, at least, is recognized and appreciated.
On Wednesday, Parker was named one of 10 finalists for the season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award. Chosen by fans on social media and an NBA executive panel, the winner will be announced at the 2018 NBA Awards on June 25, with the award honoring "a player’s strong commitment to and positive impact on their community over the course of the 2017-18 season."
Bucks fans – and Milwaukeeans in general who support good people doing good things – can vote for Parker through Twitter and Instagram by using #NBACommunityAssist and #JabariParker, as well as on Facebook by responding or commenting on a post from an NBA account (NBA, NBA Cares and the Bucks account) using #NBACommunityAssist and #JabariParker.
Social media voting begins today, April 25, and concludes on Sunday, May 6 at 10:59 p.m. CT. Notably, during the first and last day of voting, the league will promote all 10 nominees and incentivize fans to cast their vote by counting each vote twice. In addition to receiving the award at the 2018 NBA Awards in June, the NBA and sponsor Kaiser Permanente will donate $25,000 to the winner’s charity of choice.
The Bucks and their fans showed they can get out the vote for Giannis Antetokounmpo as an NBA All-Star. Let's show the league, and our own community, we care about players' off-court work too.
This season, according to the Bucks, Parker’s "Attendance All-Star" program supported the 77,000 students currently enrolled in Milwaukee Public Schools. The program incentivized attendance in school with free tickets, transportation and food to Bucks games for those who met certain goals. In March, Parker welcomed more than 300 MPS students to Bucks home games and also invited 120 MPS students to a private screening of "Black Panther," where he provided the group with food and drinks and met with them before the movie.
In his four seasons in the NBA, Parker has provided more than 5,600 Bucks tickets, 3,600 meals and 80 bus trips to MPS students at 60-plus unique locations as an incentive to show up to class and afterschool programs.
Parker joins J.J. Barea (Dallas Mavericks), Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies), DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans), Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Ricky Rubio (Utah Jazz), Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) and Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets) as finalists for this season’s NBA Cares Community Assist Award.
To learn more, visit nba.com/communityassist. Now, go vote #JabariParker!
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.