Rebounds for UNICEF

April 19, 2013
Imagine getting $100 per rebound! Well, that’s just what happened to Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers—with all of it going to UNICEF. On April 17, at the Lakers’ final game of the season, the stars aligned and everything came together on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable children. But first, a little backstory.
L.A. Laker Pau Gasol with David Kleinhandler Pau Gasol with David Kleinhandler. Photo courtesy of Andy Bernstein/Los Angeles Lakers

In December, Lakers forward and UNICEF Ambassador Pau Gasol met in New York with a group of U.S. Fund supporters to discuss his relationship with UNICEF and the field visit he made to Chad to highlight the nutrition crisis in the Sahel. While speaking with Pau at the reception, U.S. Fund for UNICEF New York Philanthropic Advisory Board member—and NBA insider—David Kleinhandler tossed out a challenge to Pau. David pledged to donate $100 to UNICEF for every rebound Pau pulled down, from that day until the end of the season. Pau's eyes lit up when he thought of the many children he could help on the court, to go with his advocacy and fundraising support off the court. Now fast forward to the Lakers final game of the season. David was at the game as a guest of the NBA and the Lakers, and everything was in place to meet Pau after the game and present him with a check for the final donation amount. Not only did the Lakers win and clinch a spot in the NBA Playoffs, but Pau had his best game of the year and grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds, pushing his final pledge rebound total to 270. After the game, Pau was pumped. He celebrated the victory with David, and David in turn celebrated Pau’s work with UNICEF by presenting him with a check for $27,000. “He’s such a humble guy,” said David after the two talked hoops and made plans to meet up at the 2014 world basketball championship in Pau’s home country of Spain. A night of winners was complete. But the biggest victory was for the children who will benefit from the partnership created by two great UNICEF supporters. Thanks to Pau Gasol and David Kleinhandler, UNICEF’s lifesaving work just got a bit easier.