Photo: Memphis Hustle center Loudon Love (left) gets some help making sandwiches during a Meet and Greet with residents of the Le Bonheur Children Hospital’s FedExFamilyHouse on Wednesday, Jan. 24. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
Members of the Memphis Hustle NBA G League basketball team took a moment away from post plays, three-point bombs and working on their favorite dunk shots to score some points in another way.
Hustle players, front office staff and coaches, including head coach Jason March, all appeared at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s FedExFamilyHouse in Memphis Wednesday afternoon. They met and played games with children and families staying at the facility, which becomes a “home away from home” for patients and their families who are being treated at the hospital and come from a distance of more than 50 miles away. Since first opening in December 2010, the FedExFamilyHouse has offered free temporary housing to out-of-town patients and families. More than 325,000 family members from all over the country and the world have used the home since it opened.
March said the Meet and Greet visit is something the team has done for several years and is something they enjoy doing for the youngsters who are staying there.
“Some of them are baking cookies, some are playing Playstation or NBA 2K,” March said. “Some guys are over here playing cards with kids and we hang out with them. We get to be with them for a few hours and kind of let them take their minds off of whatever they’re going through.”
Hustle players and staff were either taking on the kids in games, such as video games, cards or cornhole, or helping to make sandwiches.
Players, like six-nine center Loudon Love, who came to the Hustle from Texas and was undrafted out of Wright State, were more than willing to grab some bread slices, and make ham and cheese sandwiches, for instance.
“We’re really just trying to get involved in the community and give back a little bit,” Love said. “You know, step away from basketball and into the shoes of stuff that really matters in life.”
March said visits like Wednesday are important for the players as well as the children.
“It’s a long season and we face a lot of adversity, especially in the G league,” March said. “In the G League, these guys can live and die with every possession, every make or miss. “However, there’s always more going on in our community and in the world. “We’re very blessed to be able to just go and play basketball, coach basketball, whatever that may be. So it’s great to give back to the community here, but also for our guys to see what else is going on.”
Wednesday was among the variety of events away from the Landers Center court the Hustle tries to do during the season, such as their involvement in Toys for Tots earlier this year.
Love said it’s also a good opportunity for the players to do something together.
“We obviously all hang out outside of basketball,” Love said. “But it’s nice to do it together and give back.”
G League rosters can constantly be in an ever-evolving situation with trades, call-ups and roster additions. But March said these activities can provide an important team bonding experience.
We haven’t done something like this with some of the new additions to our team,” March explained. “So it’s great to be able to get the guys together and again just do something different. It’s away from the game, away from the court, away from having to hear me scream and holler and all these things.”
After Wednesday’s Meet and Greet, the Hustle now return to the court to prepare for an important Western Conference weekend series with the Santa Cruz Warriors. The two-game set begins Saturday night at the Landers Center, starting at 7 p.m. The second meeting comes the following Monday night, Jan. 29, also at 7 p.m. Memphis enters the weekend with a 5-6 record, 10th in the conference standings. Santa Cruz is the team just ahead of the Hustle in the standings with a 5-5 mark.