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June 13, 2007

Mike Espy

Derek Fisher

Billy Hunter

Larry Jones


THE MODERATOR: Thank you all for joining us here today. We'll begin with Billy Hunter making an opening comment.
BILLY HUNTER: Good morning. Happy to be here. I'm accompanied by the president of the National Basketball Players Association, Derek Fisher, to my left; Larry Jones, who's the president and founder of Feed the Children(r), and Mr. Michael Espy, the former Secretary of Agriculture from the Clinton administration.
We're here to announce an initiative that we have commenced, I guess, that's been several years now, where the National Basketball Players joined together with Feed the Children(r) to help feed hungry and starving people, indigent people, not only in the U.S. but around the world. And over the last four to five years now, our partnership, relationship, has grown tremendously.
We were instrumental in delivering care items to the victims of Katrina to the extent of about 600 truckloads. We've done food drops around the country, 10,000 this past winter in New York. We've served 10,000 people in Los Angeles during the All-Star break there, and we've done this consistently, not only through the National Basketball Players Association, in partnership with Feed the Children(r), but also many individual NBA players.
Approximately nine months ago we came up with the idea of feeding a million people, and our plan is to take a trip sometime during the month of July to actually feed a million people in Kenya. And it's been through the efforts of Feed the Children(r), Michael Espy, the National Basketball Players Association that this thing has become a reality.
I should indicate to you it's not our first venture into Africa. We have been active there for the last four or five years supporting various programs in various countries, but this is probably the largest project that we've taken on. We think that, one, it helps to enhance the NBA's efforts globally in terms of exporting its game. But I think it also clearly demonstrates the sensitivity and concern that NBA players have in conjunction with Feed the Children(r) to try to make an impact and to do what good they can wherever they can in this world.
That having been said, I'm going to turn it over to Derek Fisher, president of the Association.
DEREK FISHER: Thank you all for being here this morning. This is something that is very important to us as players and as people and to our union. We do a lot of events during our season that a lot of times are either required by the NBA or through our teams, different things that they ask us to do. So when we get opportunities, we do a lot of things in communities on our own, separate from what we're required to do with our teams. And an event of this magnitude is something that we're choosing to do separately from our teams, separately from anyone requesting or asking or requiring of us to appear at any events or to do this type of event is refreshing for us.
And so as a Union, we're excited about this opportunity. But at the same time, in respect of the people that we're going to have the opportunity to go visit and the reasons why we're going, to think about being able to have this type of impact on communities around the world is something that is, although sad, very intriguing for us, because we feel that as our game continues to grow globally, we feel that we have a responsibility to those communities, as well, similar to the communities that we play and reside in now as players continue to come in from around the world. Our responsibility will continue to spread to those communities, as well, to be mindful of the citizens that are residents there and that keep their homes there.
This is an event of the highest magnitude, and the two gentlemen to my left are extremely important and really deserve most of the credit. There's been a lot of hours put in by Billy and the staff and by our executive committee, but Larry and Mike have been the MVPs of leading this event and really putting this together, pooling all the resources together, and as players we're proud of it. And we hope that you all can understand and support us and continue to help us get this message out there, that as popular as it is to write about some of our negative stories and some of the things that happen on the negative side of our game, when we're able to do something of this magnitude, it trumps all of that. You think about the singular incidences throughout a season that happen and then you take the impact that we're going to have in Kenya and in Africa, you know, let's focus on that and hopefully continue to touch people around the world.
So I think Larry and Mike will be able to really get into the impact of what they've been doing, what they've done before in terms of the numbers, how strong this is going to be. But when you think about the possibility of being able to feed a million people, and the fact that a million people need to be fed, is truly amazing, and we feel great to be able to have a small part in hopefully changing their lives and hopefully having an impact on the world.
LARRY JONES: The relationship between the NBA Players Association and Feed the Children(r) has been going on for a number of years, and I think it's really important for you to know that we've helped feed children through the NBA Players Association literally throughout the world, especially during the time of Katrina. It wasn't that two or three guys went. We had 14 NBA players who went in a caravan of 25 trucks that went down there, and then we did separate ones with the Hornets. I'm from Oklahoma City, and as you know for the last two years the Hornets have been in Oklahoma City.
I think it is also important for you to know why Kenya, they have over 50 percent unemployment. Each day about 500 people die in Kenya from AIDS. There are literally hundreds of thousands of AIDS orphans, which makes it really difficult because even though extended families take them in, who's going to feed them because they're having a tough time feeding themselves. So consequently when the government of Taiwan said that they would give us 5,000 tons of rice, that's 11 million pounds, we were excited.
I shared this with Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, and they said basically we want to be part of this. We want to get involved, and here's what's so important from our standpoint. I'm supposed to say they're hungry children, as president of Feed the Children(r). But when you hear people like Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher, who say we're not only going to talk about it, we're going to go and we're going to actually go and help feed some of these million children that need food, that puts a whole new face on it.
You hear continuous -- not continuously, but many times, allegedly an NBA star did this. Well, I want to tell you today, this is not allegedly. The NBA Players Association is guilty of having compassion. And this is going to be a tremendous thing because when we go, and they're actually handing out food, the awareness level is going to go through the roof. The need is phenomenal not only in Kenya. There are over 10 million AIDS orphans in Africa. So when they go, there's going to be international press, and it's going to be fantastic.
Now, the NBA is known for caring for people. The NBA Players Association, they're the arms and the legs and the heart of what goes on in reaching out to people. I want you to know, you have reported soaring NBA players dunking balls, telling how they can jump. I want you to know today, the NBA Players Association has wings, and those wings are taking them to Africa. The wings of compassion. And I am really excited because you say, "What's next?" I'm just going to ask for some more rice to go to another country because there's hungry children all over the world.
MIKE ESPY: And that's where I come in maybe. My name is Mike Espy, and I served for a while as Secretary of Agriculture during the first Bill Clinton administration. For the last three years or so, four years or so, I've been involved with Feed the Children(r) and with Larry Jones. I work for him and I work with him. I work in the mission of feeding children all around the world on a daily basis. It's a gratifying mission and one that I'm really happy to help with.
My job is to find the food, to help Larry Jones find the food to feed all these kids every day. In this instance we've turned to the Republic of Taiwan. We've signed a contract with the Republic of Taiwan to donate 5,000 tons of long grain rice to Kenya. That's, as Larry said, 11 million pounds of right. The rice, most of it has already reached the shores of Kenya at the Port of Mombasa, loaded in the trucks, and the rice is now making its way up the roads of Kenya and will be met, some of it, by the NBPA players on our trip that we're about to take recent.
It is no small feat that this is now being done. I've been working with Larry Jones and Billy Hunter on several projects in the United States. I was with them when we fed the folks devastated by Katrina. 600 trucks, part of it paid for through the generosity of the NBPA and Billy Hunter, Derek Fisher and the Players Association. People in New Orleans and Gulf of Mississippi all being fed and housed and helped through the generosity of these players, and now we're about to turn our attention globally again to Feed the Children(r) of Africa, specifically the children of Kenya, and it's tough. It's a really, really tough situation.
I'm so happy that the NBPA has stepped up to the plate to take care of its responsibilities also along with all of ours.
My job here this morning was to introduce Ambassador Joseph Woo, who is the current ambassador from the Republic of China on Taiwan. He called this morning. Evidently there's a flight problem, and his flight to Cleveland was cancelled. But he did send a statement that I promised that I would read to you, and it's very brief. And then we'll take questions.
"The Government of the Republic of China on Taiwan collaborating with Feed the Children(r) has donated 5,000 metric tons, 11 million pounds, of rice to Kenya as part of an international effort to help Kenya drop relief. All of the relief rice has been shipped to Kenya and shall be distributed to Feed the Children(r) by 1 million children in need in the coming weeks.
"Taiwan and Feed the Children(r) have associated in the past and successfully cooperated in 2005 to deliver 10,000 metric tons of rice to the tsunami-ravaged areas of Indonesia, apart from food aid Taiwan in 2006 donated to Feed the Children(r) 52 containers of new clothing, which is worth approximately U.S. dollars $17.6 million and was distributed to more than 16,000 children, orphans, elderly, abandoned and others in need in 11 countries.
"This year in addition to Kenya drought relief, Taiwan also donated 5,000 metric tons of rice for humanitarian relief to Feed the Children(r). As chief representative of my government in the United States, I would like to express my heart-felt gratitude to Feed the Children(r) and to the National Basketball Players Association for organizing today's press conference to announce the trip to Kenya next month.
"Humanitarian needs knows no boundaries. Taiwan is committed to making its due contribution to the international community by every possible means. We are confident that this trip will be successful and can make a concerted effort to ensure more help to come in the following months."
We're glad to be here, glad to have the help of Taiwan, and certainly glad to be here with Billy Hunter and the NBPA.

Q. I'm sure you've heard the saying give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Is there an element at all of teaching men to fish here?
LARRY JONES: One of the things that you discover, the line that follows that never gets told, is first you've got to own a fishing pole, and second, somebody else owns the pond. Many of the children that are going to be fed are in schools, and so when one school that we fed in, they had 600 students, and we started a feeding program there and consequently it jumped from 600 to over 1,000. We also have some micro loans that we do. We also have some technical training that we do. But the real key that gets us in the door is the food.

Q. Do you have any kind of list or partial list of players that will be joining you over there, and also, is this -- have you had any plans to go in conjunction with the Basketball without Borders or any of that sort of initiative?
BILLY HUNTER: Let me answer it this way. This program is separate and distinct from Basketball without Borders. We've actually been going to Africa, the NBPA, for the last four years. We initiated a program in Kenya called Project Hope, and this was in response -- I'm sorry, in Kenya, but in the slums of Kibera. There are three slums, Methare, Kangare, and Kibera, each of them who have about a million people who are refugees from the countries that border Kenya.
About four years ago it was brought to our attention, and at that time we began this program called Project Hope through the assistant of Kermit Washington, and we began to collect and send medical supplies, as well as helping to finance an orphanage and a school which the NBP had helped establish there. We've actually been doing that I think maybe in Africa and other parts of the world prior to the NBA's establishment of the Basketball without Borders. The number of players that are going there, there are quite a few, but right now due to the political climate in Kenya we're not inclined to disclose the names of the players and the actual date that we intend to go, simply for safety and security purposes. But there are a group of players, approximately ten players, who will be traveling with us to Kenya.
I should also under score that while the Taiwanese government was benevolent enough to donate the rice, it actually cost to transport the rice from Taiwan to Kenya, and that has become the responsibility of the NBPA and Feed the Children(r). So maybe what we should do is pass the hat while we're here before we leave to see what contributions people are inclined to make.
We kind of see this as part of an effort that we're making throughout the world, making in conjunction with the NBA. The NBA has got NBA Cares, and obviously we are considering within the NBA family, so whatever we do helps to enhance the overall image of the NBA and obviously the players, and at the same time it provides the kind of relief and help to those folks who are in most need.

Q. Do you guys foresee expanding this to other countries in Africa and other continents, other nations? Would you go to Darfur, would you go to other regions in Africa that are in real need right now?
BILLY HUNTER: I think it's all an issue of having the resources. We're not limiting the program at all. As a matter of fact, we are active in South Africa with Feed the Children(r). We have a school there established call Mama Jackey's, and we help in partnership with Feed the Children(r) to actually feed the 300 to 600 kids that go to the school over the course of a year.
Four years ago we sent a group of players to Namibia to assist in a program there, and ironically just in the last two weeks I've gotten a call from the UN ambassador, or rather the Angolan ambassador to the UN who has requested an audience with us because he wants to solicit us to establish some type of relationship with Angola. So in all probability our efforts may expand there, as well.
DEREK FISHER: I think also, if I can add briefly, and this is something I'm learning rather quickly as we've gone through this process of how difficult it is to do something great for other people in terms of, quote-unquote, red tape and legal requirements and different governments, different continents, things that they require for you to really just bring food or to bring clothes or to bring items that can help people that are in need.
So in terms of our outreach globally and into our countries and continents, that focus has always been there and our thought has always been there, but countries and places where we've already established relationships are obviously places where we'll start, and as our contacts and our relationship with Larry and Mike continues to grow and we can all kind of come together and be able to use each other to really reach out to continents all over the world, not just in Africa and not just countries on that continent.
LARRY JONES: You probably know if they need food, they need everything else, and one of the things that would help tremendously, if we can take shoes, clothing, school supplies, we have warehouses across the U.S., 55 semi trucks, and if people want to give us things, preferably in truckload, we'll come and pick it up and see that it's distributed and usually by the NBA Players Association.
MIKE ESPY: That's what I'd like to emphasize is something Billy mentioned in this record. The rice here is being donated by Taiwan so it's free. It's an in-kind donation from a sovereign government to Feed the Children(r). However, that rice is in Taiwan. It's got to make its way to Kenya, and it costs about $3 million transportation costs to get that done. So in partnership with the NBPA we are doing that. So that's where the assistance comes in, in addition to going and distributing that rice in country, which is also a significant cost, transportation costs being what they are these days.

Q. I wondered if you can break down the numbers, if you have 11 million pounds of rice and one million children, how does one child get affected by this? How much rice is that going to be for them, how long will that feed them, that kind of thing?
LARRY JONES: We along with Kermit Washington have what we call school feeding programs. Number one, there's not very much rice in Kenya. It's very expensive and very nutritional. Consequently we now do beans or maize or corn, and now we'll be able to supplement this with rice. It may be over a period of time. There will be a million children fed but some of them may be the same children. We already have established feeding centers, Kermit does, too. Some of it will go in drought-stricken areas. It's going to be a double thing, school programs, but also at the same time out in drought-stricken areas where people are having the most difficult time.
The USDA says that one-fourth pound of rice will supplement a meal, so consequently we hope to have something else. The other advantage of rice, it can be mixed with so many things, so consequently we'll be supplementing about 44 million meals with the rice.

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