PUBLISHED November 10, 2013 | News, Sports
LONG BEACH, N.Y., Nov. 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — At a beachside park where he grew up playing sports as a kid, actor and comedian Billy Crystal today cut the ribbon on two new DreamCourt basketball courts to replace the basketball court destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy one year ago. Joined by Hall of Fame basketball star and two-time Olympian Nancy Lieberman, who grew up in nearby Far Rockaway, the two hometown celebrities, along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a pair of state-of-the-art basketball courts funded by the WorldVentures Foundation in partnership with the Nancy Lieberman Foundation, Sport Court International and the Billy Crystal and Friends Long Beach Renovation Fund.
“This is where I grew up, learned to dunk the ball and seriously considered a career in professional sports,” said Crystal. “I came this close to signing with the Knicks. But seriously, it is quite gratifying to return home and give back to the place that gave so much to me as a kid. I hope with this, we will help to make this area a bit more whole again.”
The city of Long Beach and its iconic boardwalk and beach recreation areas suffered significant damage from last year’s storm, which slammed into the oceanfront community on October 26, 2012. In June of this year, Long Beachcity officials announced that a portion of the rebuilt boardwalk on Neptune Boulevard beach will be named “Billy’s Way” in honor of the native son who went so far in the entertainment world and because of his generous $1 millioncontribution to the community earlier this year.
Lieberman, who grew up in Far Rockaway with an affinity for nearby Long Beach, met Crystal at a celebrity fundraiser earlier this year and the two made an immediate connection. Given the name “Lady Magic” by the sports press, Lieberman’s storied career as an Olympian and professional spanned nearly three decades culminating in her induction in both the prestigious Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
“Like many kids, sports played a big part of my youth and upbringing,” said Lieberman. “For Long Beach kids, access to afterschool recreation was severely affected by the carnage of Hurricane Sandy. My hope is that this facility can be a meaningful part of the road to recovery for a community hit so hard by tragedy.”
Today, Lieberman is the driving force behind the Nancy Lieberman Foundation which, in addition to hosting basketball camps and clinics for underprivileged children, partners with the WorldVentures Foundation to build “DreamCourts” in deserving communities around the county. The goal of the DreamCourt program is to build high-quality basketball courts in disadvantaged areas to provide children with a safe area to play, participate in free basketball clinics, interact socially, and learn important lessons about teamwork and good sportsmanship. Since 2010, Lieberman and the WorldVentures Foundation have joined forces to build ten high-quality basketball courts so far for children in communities like Austin, San Antonio, Minneapolis and Indianapolis.