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Dempsey Praises Military Partnership With Pro Basketball

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised the military partnership with pro basketball last night, saying such an affiliation will help both organizations in the future.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spoke to the National Basketball Association’s board of governors in New York, where he shared his thoughts on how the military and the NBA can work together. The general said he wants “to encourage our citizens [so] that they see we’re giving back, that we’re committed to serve, that we care not just about what we take out of society, but what we give back.”

Today, the NBA, USA Basketball and the Defense Department announced a comprehensive partnership for a robust commitment to service. Using the sport of basketball, the partnership will support local communities and hundreds of thousands of active and retired armed forces members and their families each year, according to an NBA release.

"I'm excited about partnering with the NBA and USA Basketball in finding innovative ways to serve the communities in which we live and work,” Dempsey said. “This partnership will be a slam dunk -- two groups who are the best in the world at what they do giving back to the communities that support them."

The program will focus on community service, transition, leadership and rehabilitation for those with life-altering injuries. The chairman intends for the military to partner with the NBA to solve problems together in local communities, what he calls “commitment to service.”

Basketball also wants to work with thousands of service members returning from overseas duty “to provide them with the tools and skills needed to transition from military to civilian life,” the release said.

The chairman said he is excited about the partnership, noting that it will help to answer some questions for both the military and pro basketball. “What’s in the heart of the United States military as we finish 12 years of war?” he asked. “What’s in the heart of the National Basketball Association? Who should we be for America going forward?”

By any measure, pro basketball and the U.S. military are very successful organizations, the chairman said. “Sometimes successful organizations just keep trying to hang on to the status quo,” he said.

But this, he said, is a path to mediocrity. Trying different things, being better at what you do, pushing beyond expectations are key to maintaining success, Dempsey said.

“My prediction for us is that as these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to fade and begin to pass into the rear-view mirror of American life, we’re going to have to increase our efforts to connect with America,” he said.

The U.S. military cooperating with the NBA brings a different synergy to both organizations, and helps both to partner and better connect with American people, Dempsey said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneAFPS)