Spartan fans rally together to raise money during charity game
After playing each other for the second time since 2015, the MSU men’s basketball team and the University of Georgia came together to compete in a charity match held at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The event helped raise awareness and money for hurricane relief victims during the recent months in parts of Georgia and other affected areas.
“There’s a warm feeling for giving back and this place whatever there is out there to support, they just kinda rally around,” head coach Tom Izzo said. “It’s good for our city, it’s good for our state, and it would probably be a lot better for our country if we don’t start rallying together cause to do that in such short period of time is amazing to me.”
After announcing the event last week, the game sold out in less than ten minutes on Wednesday, which raised $339,448.90 for the American Red Cross-International Services and American Red Cross-Georgia Regions.
Even with a last minute arena change, the Spartan fans truly came together to help support a cause while watching their favorite team compete. For the University of Georgia head coach Mark Fox, he knew the fan base would make a change.
“We were trying to have a game in Detroit, and we could not get that put together and then we were considering East Lansing and we ended up here,” Fox said. “I’m not really sure how we ended up here, but it worked out great. We anticipated with the following they have that we would get a pretty good turnout, but certainly their fans were phenomenal today.”
At first, many believed that the arena would not completely sell out and were amazed by the Spartan fans and Grand Rapids community to gather together to help out those in need.
With a large amount of green and white in the stands, Izzo even joked about renaming the arena.
“I’m either going to call this place Breslin West or I might have to call ours Van Andel East because they way they rose up,” Izzo said. “They made it a big time atmosphere, and I’m very appreciative of that.”
For many of the players, it seems they felt great to help out and play in the charity event. For one of the Spartans, this game made it even more special.
Senior guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn Jr. was born in Nassau, Bahamas where some of the hurricanes hit. Playing in that game meant even more to him.
“For me, it meant a lot too especially from where I’m from in the Bahamas and so many other people that got affected by it,” Nairn Jr. said. “I think when you can be apart of these games and just keep this a basketball game, it’s going towards a great cause to help people.”
Knowing that some of the relief would help out affected areas in the Bahamas made Nairn Jr. proud.
Not only was it for a good cause, he was proud of the Spartan nation to help bring this charity game together.
“That’s our fans,” Nairn Jr. said. We have got great fans, the best fans in the country and for the game to sellout that fast it shows how amazing and supporting in Spartan nation.”
For sophomore guard Miles Bridges, playing the game for his teammates and people in the affected areas also made him proud.
Even though Nairn Jr.’s family was not completely affected by the disaster, Bridges said he was happy with the results of the turn out.
“Tum Tum’s family were fortunate enough to not be fully affected by it, but at the same time their community around them and the people that they know were affected by it,” Bridges said. “I’m just happy we can help them.”
Outside of his teammate, helping those in worse situation he is glad to help those affected.
For him, being able to play the game he loves and raise money for the charity made it all worth it.
“I mean we’re helping people doing something that we love,” Bridges said. “I can’t think of any better way to help people out. I feel really sorry for the people who are affected by it. I’m happy that we can help.”
Spartan fans gather together in this time of need to help a cause that was bigger than themselves. For Fox that’s what made this game special.
He said he appreciates and thanked the Spartan community for their contributions towards the charity game in the past few days.
“Thanks to the Michigan State family and the community of Grand Rapids for the support of this game,” Fox said. “Certainly when you do something for a cause bigger than yourself, you need help to really make an impact. This couldn’t of happen without Michigan State University and the great support that their fan base and the city of Grand Rapids provided. I thank you from the bottom of our hearts from the deep south.”