Before Harold McReynolds
started Tournament of the Stars in 1995, Lake Charles wasn't exactly a hot destination for NBA players during the offseason.
But for 20 consecutive years, some of the biggest names in basketball have visited the area for the Pro-Am basketball tournament.
When the first games tipped off back in 1995 in the inaugural Tournament of the Stars, there were only six teams participating.
, who played basketball and ran track at McNeese State from 1978-82, and a friend used to play in tournaments like Tournament of the Stars and decided to put on their own.
At one point, the tournament was hosting 50 or 60 teams, but McReynolds
has scaled it back to 32 teams in recent years so as not to overwhelm his
team of workers and volunteers.
never envisioned it growing as much as it has.
Tournament of the Stars is actually a non-profit that puts on the basketball tournament, a celebrity golf tournament and a fundraising gala for the McReynolds Scholarship Foundation
That kind of generous community work runs in McReynolds' blood.
's father, Israel McReynolds Sr., would take local troubled kids into his home and Harold grew up seeing first-hand the importance of helping out the youth.
"When we give out those scholarships and honor them that night, the parents cry and it's emotional and that's what it's all about," McReynolds
"The first time I met Penny Hardaway, we just hit it off," McReynolds
"The first time I met him, we were laughing and joking like we'd known each other for a long time, but he's
that kind of guy."
also admitted he
was a bit starstruck while talking to Abdul-Jabbar and discussing basketball with the legend.
Adbul-Jabbar told McReynolds he
thinks Bill Russell is hands down the greatest center ever, for the record.
McReynolds, a safety manager at Jacobs Engineering in Houston, said while he's the figurehead for the operation, he has a group of volunteers that is essential.
"I do a little work and I call folks and travel around with my job," he