2019-09-10 05:00:00
2019-12-03 06:00:00

Give a Gift

Kids like Diego deserve a Merry Christmas.

Donate now.

Every child deserves a Merry Christmas

Donate today to help kids like Diego experience a Christmas he and every child at Mercy Home deserves.

Minimize Artboard 1

Save The Date

Giving Tuesday is December 3rd. A day to give a brighter future.

Minimize Artboard 1

Minimize Artboard 1

Minimize Artboard 1

Hoops to Homework Thrills at The United Center

Hoops to Homework Thrills at The United Center

Mercy Home’s Hoops to Homework players got the thrill of lifetime when the championship game between the Blue Team and the Black Team tipped off at the United Center, home arena of the Chicago Bulls.

This was the first time in Hoops to Homework’s 28-year history that the game was played at the United Center, once home court to NBA legends Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the Bulls’ dynasty teams that won six titles in the 1990s.

“It was so cool, playing in a place that big,” said DJ, a player on the Blue Team. “Plus, playing on the same floor that Jordan played on – that was a dream come true.”

Prior to tip off, under NBA championship banners hanging from the rafters, Hoops to Homework players warmed up while gawking at the scale of the United Center, one of the largest arenas in the United States. Overhead, team names and logos of Mercy Home and Hoops to Homework partners TransUnion and SwishHouse adorned the giant scoreboard, as the Bulls DJ and the Bulls cheer squad hyped the crowd.

After warmups, Chuck Swirsky, play-by-play broadcaster and voice of the Chicago Bulls, and Bill Wennington, color commentator and former Bulls player, gave inspirational speeches on sportsmanship and perseverance.

“Playing on the same floor that Jordan played on – that was a dream come true.”

As game action got underway, the Blue Team pulled out to an early lead, positioning themselves for a runaway victory. But the Black Team held strong and evened the score by halftime.

As players caught their breath and refueled, the Bulls DJ and cheer squad got the crowd on their feet with music, t-shirt tosses, and a dance contest between three young men from Mercy Home who were in the stands. Big Ben, one of the Bulls’ inflatable mascots, also made an appearance, mingling and taking photos with the crowd.

In the second half, the Blue Team stepped on the gas and raced to another lead. But once again, the Black Team kept their composure, chipped away at the lead, and tied the score to set up a dramatic finish. In the game’s final seconds, with the Blue Team clinging to a one-point lead, the Black Team had a chance to set up a game-winning shot. But following a time out, the inbound pass got knocked around until the final buzzer, sealing a 29-28 win for the Blue Team.

Following the game, Bob Skwarek, TransUnion’s Senior Manager of PR, Content Marketing, and Social Media, congratulated both teams on their extraordinary level of competition and composure not only throughout the championship, but also during the season. Skwarek then handed out medals to both teams before awarding the championship trophy to the Blue Team.

But the fun and games were far from over. The Bulls graciously reserved a block of tickets to the night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers for Hoops to Homework players, their friends and family, and Mercy Home coworkers, capping off another great season of Hoops to Homework.

The previous week, Hoops to Homework playoffs roared into Mercy Home, thanks to the Bulls and TransUnion, who turned the Noha gymnasium into a high-flying spectacle as they stoked tournament fever with all the fanfare of a professional playoff game.

For the second time this season, after hosting a skills clinic with TransUnion in February, the Bulls upped the ante for this year’s playoffs. On hand was the Bulls DJ, members of the Incredibulls cheer squad, and The Chicago Bucket Boys drum corps, who performed between games. Also on hand was former player turned Bulls special advisor, Toni Kukoc, who shot around and socialized with the kids.

Nick Robison, one of the SwishHouse coaches who help facilitate basketball clinics during the Hoops to Homework season, also pitched in to give our players the professional treatment. Robinson, who works for Gatorade, had Gatorade Gx bottles – similar to the ones used by the pros – made for each team. The bottles corresponded with team colors – Red, Blue, Black, Green – and each youth received a personalized bottle with his name on the lid.

The undefeated Blue Team faced off against the Red Team in the first game of the night’s twin bill. The Red Team fell behind in the first half, but came back to force a dramatic double overtime, much to the delight of the crowd. The Blue Team, however, pulled ahead and eked out a 44 – 39 victory.

“As players caught their breath and refueled, the Bulls DJ and cheer squad got the crowd on their feet with music, t-shirt tosses, and a dance contest between three young men from Mercy Home who were in the stands. Big Ben, one of the Bulls’ inflatable mascots, also made an appearance, mingling and taking photos with the crowd.”

The second game saw the Black Team tip off against the Green Team. Though one-sided, the competition was just as exciting, with the Black Team running away with a 47 – 24 win.

During time outs, the Incredibulls hyped the crowd and threw t-shirts into the stands. Halftime of each game featured a half-court shooting contest, with winners taking home a signed jersey. Also pumping up the crowd was “Benji,” the inflatable, smaller counterpart to the Bulls lead mascot, Benny the Bull.

Thank you so much to all the coaches, friends, family, and fans who cheered on our kids during the Hoops to Homework season. Thanks also to everyone at TransUnion and SwishHouse for making this year special. And finally, thank you to the Chicago Bulls, who not only dazzled our kids with the pro experience all season long, but showed them that true champions are gracious neighbors who give back to their community.  

Comments

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Discover More