ATLANTA: Tristan Thompson is one of seven finalists for the prestigious J. Walter Kennedy Award, given annually by the Pro Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Thompson created “Giving Thanks in Tristan’s Town” for Thanksgiving, purchasing turkeys and groceries for 150 families from Historic Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Cleveland. He helped distribute the meals along with game tickets.
Thompson has also raised funds for Cavaliers Youth Fund and has been an advocate for pediatric epilepsy because his younger brother has epilepsy. He has worked on behalf of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center and is active in filling requests with the Cavs’ community service department.
He has helped with events at the Children’s Rehab Hospital, Harvest for Hunger food drive and participated in the filming of a Valentine’s Day video for women whose military husbands were deployed.
“Especially in Cleveland, the unemployment rate is pretty high and a lot of families can’t support themselves and get the means for the holiday season,” Thompson said. “Me being blessed, you need to bless others. That’s what my mom taught me being young and growing up in the church, that’s what we’re here to do is bless each other. So being able to take kids on shopping sprees and the turkeys, that’s just from the love of my heart.”
This is the second season he has purchased season tickets for donation to underserved children in the community (Tristan’s Town) and next season he will launch a new education program, BLOCKS 13, in the public school system for sixth- through eighth-graders. BLOCKS 13 focuses on Behavior, Leadership, Opportunity, Character, Knowledge and Success, a program developed by Thompson to help at-risk children stay on the right track in school.
“At the end of the day we play for the community,” Thompson said. “They come out there and parents spend their hard-working money to come support us and fill the stadium, so it’s only right to give back.”
Thompson joins a list that includes the New York Knicks’ Tyson Chandler, the Chicago Bulls’ Luol Deng, the Denver Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried, the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver, the Golden State Warriors’ David Lee and the Boston Celtics’ Jason Terry.
The winner will be announced in May as part of the league’s postseason awards. The J. Walter Kennedy Award has been issued every year since 1974-75. Austin Carr (1980) and Eric Snow (2005) have previously won the award while playing for the Cavs.
“He’s done so much in the community. Almost every time you turn on the TV, he’s at a school or a hospital, giving his time and his money,” coach Byron Scott said of Thompson. “He’s very well deserving of that because he definitely does care about the community in Cleveland and he’s done a terrific job. He gives back a lot in his country [Canada] as well. He hasn’t taken his basketball status as far as getting up there in the NBA and forgotten about everything else. He is truly a believer in giving back to the community and he’s done a terrific job.”
As expected, Kyrie Irving sat out Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks since it was the second night of a back-to-back. Scott said Irving told him his left shoulder felt good, but he expected his young star to say that.
“It’s a good feeling to know if he had to, he could have played [against the Hawks],” Scott said. “But from a medical standpoint, not going back-to-back right now is very important. I think he understands we’re just looking out for him, want to make sure he finishes out the season on a good note and healthy going into next season.”
Scott said Irving would not play the second night of back-to-backs the rest of the way, but a team spokesman said later that isn’t necessarily true, but that the team would continue to evaluate Irving throughout the rest of the season.
The Cavs only have two sets of back-to-back games remaining.
Tyler Zeller wrote a diary entry for NBA.com pertaining to his transition to the NBA. It will be posted on the site today.
In it, Zeller discusses becoming an uncle for the first time (older brother Luke and his wife recently had a baby), his infatuation with the television show Duck Dynasty, the book he is reading (No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of The Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden) and the overall life of a rookie in the NBA.
“My rookie year has been like a roller coaster, with its highs and lows,” Zeller wrote. “You play well for one stretch, and then it seems like you can’t do anything right. It’s a learning experience, and it’s been a lot of fun. I learned a lot this year, which will definitely help my game next year.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.