For three years now the Denver Nuggets have made an annual visit to watch a Unified Eagles Basketball game. This tradition started when former Nuggets player Chris “Birdman” Andersen, now with the Miami Heat came in 2011. Ever since then the Nuggets are eager to come back to Heritage and attend a Unified game. Last year players from the team included Kenneth Faired, Timofey Mosgov, Kosta Koufous, and Corey Brewer. “We want to come back every year if we can, it’s one of the first events we schedule,” says Doug Fulton, Denver Nuggets Community Relations Coordinator. “It’s everything that’s right about sports.”Through Project Unify all of this is possible. The project unites professional athletes and Special Olympics teams. Few select players stand along the sidelines and cheer on the 17 athletes and nearly 80 partners.
“It’s fun to see the kids have a good time and smiles on their faces,” says small forward Corey Brewer who returned from last year.
At Unified the score doesn’t matter and baskets call for a celebration. That overwhelming support keeps the Nuggets coming back. The Nuggets also bring their own announcer, cheerleaders, and of course Rocky, the team mascot. During substitutions and breaks between quarters they throw t-shirts into the crowd.
“It’s good to support them because they always support us,” says center Kosta Koufos, who also returned to Heritage for this special event.
For first time visitors, watching Unified is remarkable and unforgettable.
“Everybody is on the court having a good time,” says forward Wilson Chandler.
“It’s great to meet new people and see the team, high school, and community,” says small forward Danilo Gallinari.
For one night of the season it doesn’t matter if you are a partner, player, or professional athlete because on that night everyone is connected and unified.
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