NBA players pledge further support to Gulf Coast By Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY The NBA Players Association increased its pledge of financial support for victims of Hurricane Katrina by $1.5 million Tuesday. It also announced that it is partnering with Feed The Children, the Christian non-profit international relief organization based in Oklahoma City in Operation Rebound, to help with the recovery effort. The union originally pledged to make a $1 million donation. "That was a starting point," union director of player programs Purvis Short said following a news conference in New York. Operation Rebound actually began last week and 90 tractor trailers filled with food, water, clothes and other supplies have already made deliveries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which were directly affected by the storm. Supplies have also reached shelters in Tennessee, Georgia and Texas where evacuees are housed. Another 30 trucks will be dispatched later this week. Operation Rebound will also include a Compassion Caravan, a convoy of 10-12 trucks, which will leave Jackson, Miss., sometime next week to deliver food and supplies to the Gulf region. Players will be aboard the trucks to hand out supplies. In addition, New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury personally pledged to donate between $500,000 and $1 million this season. "Our biggest motivation to (become involved) is the need for help," union president Antonio Davis said. "We're human beings first of all. Just watching on TV gives you a sense of how bad things are. Then you talk to people like P.J. (Brown of the New Orleans Hornets, who lost his home in Slidell, La.), it's beyond comprehension. We're trying to put our heads together and figure out how to help. "It's like Stephon said — you almost feel guilty. We're here, warm, and we've got water and food. Those people have nothing. We're in this thing all through the rebuilding." Union secretary Pat Garrity said players throughout the league have been deeply touched by the storm's devastation — even though most weren't personally affected — because a large number of their peers are from Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. "Guys have a lot of pride in where they come from," Garrity said. "To see what happen to their neighbors, friends and families has been terrible for everyone." Short grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., and his brother Eugene, a former No. 1 draft pick by the Knicks, still lives there. He returned to Hattiesburg last weekend and got a first hand look at the damage that Katrina inflicted. "I've never seen so many trees pulled up, roots and all," he said. "I didn't see a house that didn't have wind damage. The devastation is unbelievable." Short said that union is planning other projects to assist victims, and that it will be involved throughout the recovery and rebuilding process in the Gulf region. "This is not a one-shot deal," he said. "It's an ongoing thing."