MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The National Basketball Association, as part of the 2013 NBA Finals, along with the Miami Heat opened a new NBA Cares Learn & Play Center at the Joe Celestin Center in Miami Friday.

“It’s always good to come out here with the kids they look up to us a put a smile on our face,”  Mario Chalmers said.

The center’s purpose is to give North Miami kids a safe place to play and resources to help them explore academic interests and enhance the programming for North Miami residents of all ages.

The center was refurbished with a partnership between the NBA and State Farm Insurance as part of the NBA Cares program. It has new furniture, paint, and Heat-themed decorations. The center is the 810th area the NBA has worked on and the 12th in South Florida the Heat has created.

The center’s opening was attended by Heat players Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Udonish Haslem, and Rashard Lewis along with NBA commissioner David Stern and Heat owner Micky Arison.

Norris Cole and Shanne Battier  hit the books with the little ones with Cole admitting after last night’s game, hanging out with the kids is just what they needed.

“It’s a good change of pace after the loss. These children make you smile they are excited about reading and sports it’s a good change of pace,” Cole said.

When asked if the team is ready for Sunday’s game Cole said, “I’m pumped for the next game I am ready to play right now.”


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