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Spurs Stars Dedicate New Learning Center At Wheatley Middle School

The Spurs are holding a one-game advantage in their showdown with the Miami Heat for the NBA Finals, and despite the pressure, the team took time Wednesday to dedicate a new learning center at Wheatley Middle School.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said this is the 811th NBA live, learn and play center of its kind. Teams who make the finals are given an NBA grant to give back to their communities.

Spurs stars past and present played with kids at the new center, including George "Iceman" Gervin, David Robinson, Danny Green, and Matt Bonner. Coach Greg Popovich said seeing smiles on all the faces of children never gets old.

During the ceremony, Bonner towered over the podium and even sang the State Farm Insurance song in an effort to thank them for their partnership in making the center possible. He said he relates to a center like this.

"I know myself growing up, I went to the Boys and Girls Club every day after school and that gave me a place to go and make myself better in sports and homework and everything," he said. "Hopefully this facility can serve a similar function.

"Anytime you can create a place where kids can go to be productive, and give them positive things to do, it's great," Bonner said.

Following remarks by the team, Bonner read to the children.

"When you have celebrity you have an obligation to be a leader in social responsibility," Stern said. "This gives us an opportunity to do it."

Green played a game of Jenga with the kids and said this is an opportunity even he didn’t have growing up.

"It's amazing man. I was once a kid. I know what it's like. I didn't have these types of resources," he said. "I didn't have [a] professional team or athletes come back to my community to interact with us so I know how special it is and how special it can be."

Wheatley Middle School is on the Eastside near the AT&T center, the home of the Spurs, and a spokesperson said because of the relationships the team has already developed with the students at the school, the learning center was a natural fit.

The Spurs didn’t say how much the center cost because some of the items -- like the carpet -- were donated. Organization leaders said that makes it hard to tally a total cost, but the effects it will have on the kids may be priceless.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.