Through Direct Relief International, one of the world’s leading medical relief organizations, Gasol and 19 other NBA players (including his brother Marc of the Grizzlies) committed to help the people of Japan in respective games occurring between the 25th and 27th of March.
Gasol, who is averaging nearly 19 points per game this season, shared his thoughts on the matter after his team’s Thursday afternoon practice:
When natural disaster like that occurs, I think it affects us all. You never know where it’s going to happen next, or if it’s going to happen to somebody close to you, related to you or yourself. The world has to team up and get together and help and support, and that’s why I knew I was going to do something. It was just a matter of how and when, and when I learned about the Direct Relief International and what they were doing, supplying medical supplies and financial support right away and making a difference, I thought it was the right fit. That’s why I’m going to donate $1,000 for each point I score in tomorrow’s game, and I’m proud to join a few other NBA players* that are also part of this initiative.
The donations go towards supporting the immediate health needs of people affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami’s off Japan’s coast, and to assist local authorities best situated to assess, respond and prepare for the long-term recovery, according to a release from Direct Relief International.
“Direct Relief responds to emergencies all around the world, including the U.S., and the scale of the tragedy in Japan is immense by any measure,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief International. “These world-class NBA athletes are showing world-class generosity to support people in Japan who need help now and will still need it as the headlines fade. We hope they light up the scoreboards this weekend.”
“We are incredibly proud that our athletes have rallied together to assist with Direct Relief’s efforts in Japan,” said Arn Tellem, principal of the management division of Wasserman Media Group, which represents the donating athletes. “Due to the gravity of the situation, we hope that citizens around the world consider following the example of our athletes by making a donation of any amount to an organization of their choice assisting in the Japanese relief efforts.”
For Gasol, who donated similarly to the relief of Haiti last year, doing so was natural.
“It’s just something that you feel like doing,” he concluded. “You put yourself in the position of people that are struggling, and you can’t even imagine it even if you see some of the images that are out there. You just try to be a leader in a way, and hopefully attract some more people and awareness so people will join you, and more support is created by it.”
UPDATE: Gasol scored 26 points against the Clippers to raise a total of $26,000.