Among the sold out crowd in Air Canada Centre for the 65th NBA All-Star Game on February 14, 2016, Los Angeles Clippers fan Mike Berich was in attendance as the first prize winner of the “Responsibility Has Its Rewards” sweepstakes for designated drivers. Berich, a resident of North Hollywood, California, was named “Designated Driver for the Season” for the Clippers for the 2014-2015 season. All 30 NBA teams selected a Designated Driver for the Season. Mr. Berich was the lucky one randomly selected to represent the nearly 69,000 responsible NBA fans who pledged to be designated drivers last season.
Several hundred NBA fans pledged to never drive drunk at the NBA Centre Court offered for three days leading up to the All-Star Game.
For the last nine NBA seasons, the NBA, Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management (TEAM) Coalition and NBA teams across the country have been working together to make more fans aware of the designated driver programs at NBA arenas, promote traffic safety and encourage responsible drinking and positive fan behavior. The success of those efforts is demonstrated by the fact that designated driver program participation has more than tripled league-wide since the partnership began in 2006.
The “Responsibility Has Its Rewards” sweepstakes grand prize winners from the 2014-2015 NBA season were Kenton Mak and Ken Smith. Mak was named “Designated Driver for the Season” for the Golden State Warriors and Smith was selected to represent the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mak attended game one of The Finals 2015 and Smith attended game 3. Designated drivers pledge to refrain from drinking alcohol at the game and provide their friends and family with a safe ride home.
The top five NBA teams for designated drivers at the end of the 2014-2015 season were:
- Dallas Mavericks with 9,488 designated drivers
- Oklahoma City Thunder with 8,200 designated drivers
- Houston Rockets with 7,374 designated drivers
- Sacramento Kings with 6,069 designated drivers
- San Antonio Spurs with 5,391 designated drivers
“The success of the Responsibility Has Its Rewards campaign with the NBA is a direct result of the commitment from the league, the teams and all the campaign partners,” said Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition. “Teamwork is what this campaign is all about. We are demonstrating that when everyone – including the fans – takes responsibility, everyone wins.”