The Golden State Warriors’ playoff run will have some Latin flavor this year thanks to a small Puerto Rican restaurant tucked away in a corner of a neighborhood market in Oakland’s Dimond District.
“We’ve been cooking for the past two or three days, prepare, getting ready and very excited for this moment. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Jose Ortiz, owner of La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine.
His family-run restaurant has been chosen to cater the VIP sections at Oracle Arena for the Warriors first round playoff games. His customers are excited.
Last weekend, New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony visited Puerto Rico to unveil two newly remodeled basketball courts located within the Magnolia Gardens public housing complex in the northern city of Bayamon. The newly remodeled basketball courts are used by the island’s top minor league players which have produced players that are part of the island’s Superior League. It is estimated that about 350 children currently use the two courts.
In a press conference last thursday Carmelo Anthony, whose father is Puerto Rican, said “There’s plenty of kids down there who need role models… I grew up in a situation like that. It was survival of the fittest.”
Before & After of La Perla Basketball Court
Last year The Carmelo Anthony Foundation restored a basketball court in the northern coastal town of Luquillo. In 2010, they refurbished a popular basketball court in La Perla, which is a famous seaside slum in historic Old San Juan. Courts for Kids is a partnership between The Carmelo Anthony Foundation and Anthony’s Syracuse University coach’s Jim & Juli Boeheim Foundation. Their focus is to encourage and help kids in disadvantaged socioeconomic areas of Syracuse and Puerto Rico by giving them a better place to play and the opportunity to be successful both on the court and in life.
While in Puerto Rico, Melo also hosted a free-admission celebrity softball game with other athletes including Knicks teammates Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton, former Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams, NBA players Marcus Camby and J.J. Barea, and rapper Fat Joe among others. The outcome for the softball game was great even though it was raining and Melo was seen signing autographs.
Carmelo’s wife LaLa was also on the scene with her cousin Dice and friend Po. Carmelo Anthony expects to refurbish more of the island’s courts in the future.
Check out more photos from this past weekend’s events and past Courts for Kids charity work below!