Former NBA star Penny Hardaway draws a foul from J. Parlow with the Dream Team during a Tournament of the Stars semifinal game in 2011. (Karen Wink / American Press).
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 6:35 PM
For the 18th straight year, Harold McReynolds is carrying his father’s legacy into a sporting event near and dear to Lake Charles.
The annual Tournament of the Stars Pro-Am basketball tournament is set for Aug.10-12 at various gym locations in the Lake Area, with Championship Sunday slated for the Civic Center, and plans are in full swing.
McReynolds founded the Tournament of the Stars nonprofit organization in honor of his father, Israel McReynolds Sr., who died in 1991 after devoting his life to helping children cope through challenges. In 1998, McReynolds established a scholarship fund in his father’s name to contribute to educational and athletic advancements for children, and the pro-am basketball tournament is the organization’s main fundraiser.
“I wanted to start something to keep his memory alive and what he stood for ... give back to our youth,” McReynolds said. “I know how important it was to him to have kids get education. What he did was we used to have a bunch of kids, teenage boys who used to stay with us all the time, for weeks, months, sometimes years. Over the years there were hundreds of them, and he took care of them."
McReynolds said he’s expecting about 40-50 teams from throughout the country for this year’s adult basketball showcase, many from Louisiana and Texas, but also including Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Memphis, Nashville and South Carolina to name a few. He said one NBA star is confirmed for the weekend in Orlando Magic forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis, a former LSU player who is hosting a youth basketball camp in Lake Charles Aug. 9-10 at the Ward 3 Recreational Complex.
“A lot of these guys like to hold close to their chest who’s coming because they don’t want anybody to know because the tournament is so competitive,” said McReynolds, a McNeese State alumnus. “I know Big Baby Davis is planning on coming. The competitiveness has grown through the years. These guys look forward once a year to see who’s the best.”
Last year men’s and women’s teams from Memphis swept the tournament championships. The Memphis Express led by former NBA player Penny Hardaway won their third straight men’s title, while the Memphis Lady Tigers took their second in a row.
McReynolds said the Tournament of the Stars is appealing for many reasons.
“A lot of these players who come here have never heard of Lake Charles until they get here,” McReynolds said. “They find it’s a diamond in the rough and they love it — they love the people, they love the food and the atmosphere. What Lake Charles gets out of it is we get roughly between 5,000-7,000 people who just come into town besides the athletes to see what’s going on, so the economic impact is great.”