Alonzo Mourning is hosting his 15th annual Zo's Summer Groove this coming week, with events starting Wednesday.
You should attend, you should donate, you should offer what you can to help South Florida youth, after the former Miami Heat center and current Heat executive has done so much in that arena already.
And yet not a single active NBA player is listed on this coming week's roster of participants.
And that's why the lockout stinks. Not because the billionaire owners and millionaire players can't find a way to split their gazillions. But because even in the name of charity and social enrichment, hard lines have been drawn with few soft spots.
So instead of the usual roster of active NBA players drawing attention to the event's causes, the press kit for Mourning's event instead lists participants such as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, Heat assistant coach Keith Askins, former NBA players Eddie Jones, Eric Murdock, Bruce Bowen and Gerald Henderson, football personalities Bruce Smith, Jason Taylor, Jonathan Vilma, Lamar Thomas, Keith Byars, Duane Starks, Ki-Jana Carter and Terry Kirby, as well as members of the University of Miami basketball team.
It's not as if present members of the Heat and other South Florida-based NBA stars aren't willing, it's that in an incredibly short-sighted move, the NBA essentially has banned contact during the lockout between active players and anyone associated with team front offices or coaching staffs. Mourning is the Heat's vice president of player programs.
And it's not as if Mourning could disqualify recuse himself from the event. He is the event.
This very weekend, the Heat had to obtain league permission to have staff members attend the wedding of power forward Chris Bosh. This same weekend, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has been granted NBA permission to participate in a celebrity golf tournament that features active NBA players. The NBA has handled such matters on a case-by-case basis.
Dwyane Wade, who had co-hosted the event with Mourning in recent years, said he plans to continue to offer his assistance with Mourning's efforts.
This blacklisting of NBA players and these team blackouts of news regarding the league's players is beyond foolish. Eventually the league will resume normal operations. If not this month or even this calendar year, there ultimately will be NBA basketball. The players remain the product.
The NFL, which has been ahead of the curve with its own lockout, got that part, allowing Miami Dolphins players and coaches to comingle during the team's recent charity weekend, continuing to focus on active players amid NFL Network lockout programming.
The players are not the enemy. In any successful resolution, they will remain partners, with only the percentage of the financial pie changing.
Events such as Zo's Summer Groove, an event that this year comes without its signature all-star basketball game, should stand as a demilitarized zone. During the league's darkest hours, charity events cast the NBA in its brightest light.
Instead, former Heat center Brian Grant is unable to lure active players to his own charity event in Portland because of his role as a franchise ambassador with the Portland Trail Blazers.
And the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program this summer will be conducted without active NBA players.
Whether Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis gets his NHL hard-cap model for the NBA, whether Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert gets a system more restrictive when it comes to the movement of franchise players, whether Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling continues to cash in are matters best left for the number crunchers.
The shame of the lockout is the impact it is having on matters of far greater context than points, assists, rebounds and profits.
(To find out how to make a donation or attend the various events at Zo's Summer Groove visit www.zsg.com or contact Alonzo Mourning Charities at 305-476-0095.)
IN THE LANE
CASHING IN: At the very moment the NBA has cut off all support mechanisms to its players during the lockout, from insurance to training facilities, the league also is funding those same players. Because the league did not exceed the agreed-upon payout of 57 percent of basketball-related income to players this past season, it means a complete refund of the eight-percent escrow withheld from 2010-11 paychecks. With the Heat, that means checks of $1.3 million being cut to LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the high end of the team's rebate scale. On the low end, it means a $38,000 check going out to rookie center Dexter Pittman. Only in the NBA can locked out workers receive a payment from the party locking them out for what equates to a year's salary for many. In all, the NBA returned $160 million to its players, who also are due marketing shares from this past season. The NBA lockout, where the cash continues to roll in.
LEBRON'S REALITY: Former Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said he saw nothing out of line with the media beatdown James endured with this past season's shift to the Heat. Speaking to Sports Illustrated after being added to TNT's studio show, O'Neal said James merely had to deal with what previous stars such as Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman and Magic Johnson endured through their careers. "I would not characterize it as unfair because, like I said, it happened to everyone," he said. "It happened to Jordan when he went to Atlantic City to get away from the game. It happened to Barkley. It happened to Rodman. It happened to Magic. It happens to everybody. If it just started this year, I would call it unfair, but I've been in the game for 20 years and I've seen similar stories."
STILL HURTING: The dislocated elbow sustained by Rajon Rondo in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Heat continues to limit the Boston Celtics point guard. Rondo last week told the Fox television affiliate in Louisville, "It's the worst pain I've ever been in playing ball. I'm still in a little bit of pain right now, but the swelling is down. The only thing is there's swelling in my joint. I'll be fine, it just takes time." Had it been a Heat player discussing a lingering playoff injury, like the hip ailment that limited Dwyane Wade the final two games of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, there would have been an uproar about whining.
NOT ALONE: Of course, after vanquishing the Celtics, the Heat then ousted the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals. Now Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is saying he wasn't fully himself against the Heat. "I just learned from last season where my conditioning wasn't up to par at the end of the season," Rose told Yahoo Sports. "That's what I'm working on this summer, getting my conditioning right. There was just fatigue. My body wore down. Just going through the rounds, the first time being there past the first round, it was hard." Imagine if Bosh, who had an even more-limited playoff history than Rose, played the fatigue card.
OVER THERE: Count former Heat forward Dorell Wright among those looking overseas amid the lockout. With a deal with Chinese shoe company Peak in place, the Golden State Warriors' 3-point specialist told the Oakland Tribune he could see himself looking toward China if the lockout cuts into the NBA schedule. Wright had plans in place prior to the lockout for an August tour of China.
THE NEXT STEP: It appears that former Heat guard Brian Shaw is back in a coach-in-waiting spot, this time with the Indiana Pacers, where he just has been named as top assistant to Frank Vogel. Upon Shaw's introduction, Vogel told the Indianapolis Star, "He and I will sort of coach this team together." Shaw, of course, had been coach-in-waiting alongside Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers before being pushed out when Mike Brown was named to succeed Jackson. The Indiana situation is a bit unusual in that Vogel will have only three assistants instead of the current norm of five.
COLLATERAL DAMAGE: Speaking of assistants with Heat ties, figure on Kurt Rambis' dismissal by the Minnesota Timberwolves meaning the end of the tenure there for former Heat assistant coach and executive Dave Wohl. Wohl, who had overseen the Heat's front office prior to Pat Riley's arrival, had been a Wolves' assistant during Rambis' two seasons.
2. Consecutive years LeBron James has bypassed the ESPYs, after hosting ESPN's award show in 2007. That opened the door for host Seth Meyers to quip, "LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh refer to themselves as the Big Three in honor of how many quarters they play."