It was a beautiful September afternoon and Tyreke Evans was visiting his old stomping grounds in Chester, Pa.
In the shadows of the outdoor courts on 7th Street, a mobile eye clinic was set up for one week as it has been for the last five summers.
Evans is part of a team that donates its time and resources, providing free eye exams and glasses to people whom otherwise would not have the means to get the eye care they need.
“This is where I came from and you should never forget where you come from,” Evans, a four-year NBA veteran, said. “This is where I started putting the ball in my hands here in Chester, playing outside on those courts. Never could I forget it.”
VSP, a Sacramento-based vision-care company, approached Evans about this charity project when he first went to play for the Kings. The irony? Evans has better-than-perfect vision. But being able to touch the community that helped shape his future mattered to him.
What also matters to Evans these days is having a fresh start in New Orleans this fall after four years in Sacramento.
“It’s been a little tough with this being the first time I was in free agency,” Evans said. “It was like picking a school again when I chose a college. Teams came and talked to me -- a lot of good teams, a lot of good GMs. I think I made the best decision for me picking the New Orleans Pelicans. I think it is a great fit with Jrue [Holiday] added. I have known him for a long time.”
Holiday became a Pelican on draft night when the Sixers traded the one-time All-Star to New Orleans for Nerlens Noel and the Pelicans' 2014 first-round draft pick.
Evans is well aware that Sixers fans won’t want him and Holiday to have too much success this season because the worse New Orleans' record is, the higher the likelihood of a better draft pick for the Sixers.
Evans chuckles at that thought. He can also identify with the kind of season that awaits the team he cheered for growing up.
“You saw us come though Philadelphia through the years -- there was always frustration,” Evans said, referring to the struggling Kings teams he played on. “We still tried to play hard and finish out games. The Sixers are rebuilding and they are probably going to have to go through the same process and hopefully they get back on track. But the team we have in New Orleans we can, I think, be really good in the West.”
Training camp hasn’t even begun, but Evans already has his eyes set on April.
“I just want to try and be the best I can be and push my teams into the playoffs,” Evans said. “This is my fifth year and I haven’t seen the playoffs yet, so that’s my main goal. I want to work hard and have my teammates work hard so that we can have that push to the postseason.”