In a unique matchup, athletes with disabilities are set to square off on the court this weekend with some of basketball’s best.
A dozen Special Olympics basketball players from around the world will convene in Houston for a special “unified” exhibition game as part of the NBA’s All-Star weekend. They will form two competing teams that will be rounded out with players from the WNBA and NBA legends Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Mullin, Detlef Schrempf and Ron Harper.
The game Sunday afternoon will take place just hours before the NBA’s All-Stars take to the very same court. And, in the same fashion as the All-Star game itself, players will be divided into two teams — one representing the “East” and another the “West.”
Athletes with intellectual disabilities from across the United States and as far away as China and Namibia are expected to participate.
The unified sports model being showcased in Sunday’s game is part of a larger effort by Special Olympics to form teams and sports leagues around the world composed of people with intellectual disabilities and typically developing individuals who compete alongside each other.
The NBA All-Star game gathers the best players from throughout the league for a special, nationally-televised game once a year. This is the second year in a row that the NBA has included a unified basketball game as part of the weekend of events.