As vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, Maurice Evans has been directly involved in the negotiations that have led to the current NBA lockout and possible loss of the 2011-12 season.
Because he wasn’t playing basketball in Washington this week, Evans decided to take advantage of an opportunity to return to his hometown of Wichita to help deliver 500 turkeys as part of the NBA’s annual Great Turkey Giveaway.
He handed out the frozen turkeys at Boys & Girls Club, 2400 Opportunity Drive, after offering a few tips to some of the club members practicing in the gym.
Evans played basketball at Wichita Collegiate, Wichita State University and the University of Texas, before playing in the NBA for the last seven years. He played last season with the Washington Wizards.
Evans said the players association usually distributes the turkeys in cities with NBA franchises, but “I made the suggestion that we give some turkeys to the communities where we’re from.” The association agreed, and 500 turkeys this year were allotted to Wichita.
Lindsey Wasinger, marketing director of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, said about 100 of the turkeys were distributed at Boys & Girls Clubs in Oaklawn and Haysville.
Evans said he was more than happy to return to his hometown to help with the project.
“It feels great to come back to Wichita,” he said. “I miss Kansas. I’m so proud to see the Shockers being so successful.”
Although negotiations with NBA owners thus far have been unfruitful, Evans said he was still optimistic that a 2011-12 NBA season will occur.
“Honestly, I’m not sure, but I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a season,” he said.
Among the club members who met Evans on the basketball court was Jahil Rounds, 12, who showed Evans his “handles” – his dribbling and ball-handling skills.
“He said to keep on working on them,” Rounds said. “He’s really nice.”
Rounds was one club member who appeared to be more interested in meeting Evans than getting a free turkey.
“I’ve never met an NBA player before,” he said.