George Hill a finalist for the J. Walter Kennedy Award

Completing his eighth NBA season, George Hill is averaging 12 points and 3.5 assists per game

Completing his eighth NBA season, George Hill is averaging 12 points and 3.5 assists per game

At training camp two seasons ago, I asked George Hill, the Pacers’ starting point guard, what his individual goals were for the season. It’s hard to get George to talk about himself, but I inquired.

“I don’t have any individual goals, just win,” he replied.

When further pressed, he provided one … but it was nothing basketball related.

Hill began the season as a blonde and then went back to his natural look.

Hill began the season as a blonde and then went back to his natural look.

He wanted to win the NBA’s Community Assist Award, an annual award given to the player “who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.”

Hill, an Indianapolis native, says he’s blessed to be in the position that he’s in and enjoys giving back. He’s done several events in the past that even I wasn’t aware of. He prefers to quietly give back.

Like the time at Christmas a few years back when he bought toys and items himself and then distributed them out of the back of his SUV to kids in his old neighborhood off 34th Street.

The Community Assist Award has been given out monthly since the 2001-2002 season, but it has also been a season-long award the past four years.

(Previous season-long award recipients: 2011-12: Pau Gasol, 2012-13: Dwyane Wade, 2013-14: Stephen Curry, 2014-15: Russell Westbrook)

[See Also: Hill discusses fatherhood: ‘I have more to play for now’]

A similar award has been handed out for much longer, the J. Walter Kennedy Award, voted on by members of the Professional Basketball Writer’s Association. Hill is one of five finalists for the award, presented annually (since 1974-75) to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

The other finalists: Wayne Ellington (Brooklyn Nets), LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).

Here’s more information from Hill’s nomination:

When George was growing up he didn’t have a professional mentor to help steer him in the proper direction. When he reached the NBA, he knew he had to give back and fulfill that role in hope it would change someone’s life. He has also made it a point to single out military personnel in Indiana, citing what they do for us while we are able to live in a country of freedom.

In the last year, George organized and paid for Christmas parties for 10 families of military personnel, donating 75 to 100 gifts per family. He also has sponsored the “Sideline Soldiers” program for half of the Pacers’ home games, donating tickets to 10 military families per game.

When it comes to giving back to youth, George has many diversified interests that reach many. He has been part of the Kids Against Hunger/Feeding Haiti program. While he personally visited to participate in 2014, he didn’t stop there. He couldn’t make the trip in 2015 but instead donated funds/food and helped pack more than 100,000 meals for the program. Last summer, he ran basketball camps for the American Teaching School in China.

For local youth, George partnered with Indiana Members Credit Union to donate three backpacks to Indianapolis Public Schools (George attended IPS) for every 3-pointer he makes. He also pays tuition ($15,000 per child) for five at-risk kids to attend St. Richard’s School in Indianapolis. Each year, he sponsors George Hill’s Rising Stars AAU football and basketball programs for more than 200 children from the inner city.

Finally, while with the Spurs, he started “Ballin’ On The Border: basketball camps for kids in low-income communities on the South Texas Border. That program continues and he participates each summer.

We have encouraged George to do media regarding his efforts off the court and have had many requests. He declines. With his blessing, we nominated him for this award in hope of some small recognition for his efforts. Being one of the five finalists helps do that and we appreciate the consideration for this award.

Chicago Joakim Noah earned the honor last season. One Pacers player has won it, Reggie Miller after the 2003-04 season.

[Blonde George Hill era over after nine months]

The other finalists for PBWA awards:

Magic Johnson Award: This award recognizes the player who best combines excellence on the court with cooperation with the media and fans.

Carmelo Anthony, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green,, Damian Lillard, Paul Millsap

Rudy Tomjanovich Award: This award recognizes the coach who best combines excellence in his craft with cooperation with the media and fans.

Dwane Casey, Steve Clifford, Doc Rivers, Brad Stevens, Stan Van Gundy

Brian McIntyre Award: This award is presented to an NBA PR staff that exemplifies the standards of professionalism and excellence worthy of acclaim.

Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors

One Response to George Hill a finalist for the J. Walter Kennedy Award
  1. Donald Smith
    April 12, 2016 | 5:39 pm

    I am amazed at how much more George is doing than I was aware!I only knew about the basketball program that my grandkids Trinity and Javin participate in each year. That is obviously only a small part of George’s giving. What a great example he sets. I wish others with the resources would follow his lead. Thank you George! I wish I could vote for you. You are certainly beyound deserving! Good Luck with the playoffs and your nomination.
    Don Smith

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