NEW ORLEANS (AP) -NBA commissioner David Stern stood before a crowd in an inner-city school gymnasium and offered his perspective on this city's ongoing rebuilding efforts.
``It's important to us, it's important to America, and it probably should be important to the world,'' Stern said Wednesday, hours before the Hornets opened their regular season at home against the Sacramento Kings.
This is the Hornets' first full season back in New Orleans since being displaced to Oklahoma City for two years by Hurricane Katrina.
There is plenty of skepticism regarding the team's prospects for long-term financial success in a city that for years will be recovering from the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.
But Stern said he was determined to do right by New Orleans.
He said he has committed the entire league to various community service endeavors in the city, from building public basketball courts to bolstering learning resources in the area's schools.
``This is going to be a season-long, league-wide effort that is going to involve the entire NBA family,'' Stern promised.
At Walter L. Cohen High School, the NBA cut the ribbon on one of what will be about 30 family resource centers the league will help set up in various schools. The centers, built with help from Cisco, provide a place for parents to get involved in their children's education. They include a small library and computer terminals where parents or tutors can help students with homework.
The centers also are meant to help parents learn more about ways to help their children perform better in class.
Numerous government officials and NBA dignitaries took part in the event, including Hall of Famers Bob Lanier and Willis Reed, Hornets majority owner George Shinn, and Sacramento Kings owners Joe and Gavin Maloof.
The Maloof brothers also had their team come to New Orleans early so they could join Hornets players in a Read-to-Achieve program at the city's aquarium on Tuesday afternoon.
Every NBA team that visits New Orleans during the regular season will participate in a community activity, working through the NBA Cares program.
Stern also promised to send ``thousands'' of people affiliated with the NBA, such as players, coaches, front office staff and their families, to New Orleans during All-Star weekend to ``get their hands dirty'' while working on community service projects.
The NBA and its players have contributed more than $15 million to the Gulf Region, along with helping construct 35 homes and five playgrounds.
All-Star weekend is scheduled for Feb. 15-17.

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