Basketball fans will now get to have a Charlotte Hornets experience next time they shoot hoops at Latta Park in Dilworth.
Tuesday, Hornets chairman Michael Jordan cut the ribbon for the refurbished basketball court along with the NBA commissioner and the Mayor of Charlotte.
Jordan, along with the entire Hornets team and coaching staff, were all on hand. The Hornets won Monday night's game in overtime in Chicago, took a plane and were still ready to teach kids and do basketball drills Tuesday morning for the opening of the refurbished basketball court.
Latta Park is the first of three neighborhood parks in Charlotte to get the Hornets experience. It includes the teams' colors and branding. The Hornets legacy project organized the renovation. The next two parks will be Camp Greene Park and Tuckaseegee Park.
Jordan spoke Tuesday about the values basketball taught him, like preparation and hard work. He said as the city heals itself, he sees the kids and he sees hope.
Hornets player Cody Zeller agreed.
"I think everyone can bond over sports just throw a ball out there and kids will have fun no matter what they’re going through or what they’re background may be," Zeller said.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about the new court, and the politics associated with HB2 and the canceling of the NBA All Star game. Silver said he is keeping the door open for the All-Star game to possibly come to Charlotte in 2019. The NBA commissioner said he wants kids to come back and use the court. He said it's about playing and it's about values.
"It’s been a tough time down here in North Carolina. Issues with the hurricane, problems here in Charlotte. My heart goes out to you, but I know I’ve spent time with your mayor and your elected officials. You have great leadership down here and I know you’re going to work through these issues," said Silver.
Basketball is more than the sport Michael Jordan played. He said it taught him values. Jordan didn't speak about the All-Star Game or the controversy around HB2, but he did speak about how the recent violence in Charlotte after the officer-involved shooting of Keith Scott made him upset.
"Charlotte is a very special place to me and my family. And together - we with the Hornets, and the colleagues of the Hornets - will continue to work every day to reject violence, change perceptions, and restore the trust between law enforcement and the community," said Jordan.
Jordan spoke about politics and healing off the court after a year when the NBA has played a role in North Carolina politics.
"We want to thank Adam Silver and the NBA for their support of the Hornets, for their support of Charlotte for their support of this legacy project and for stepping up in tough times and showing we’re going to move forward together," said Mayor Jennifer Roberts.
Charlotte will not host the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. Silver said he told the mayor Tuesday and this summer it's about inclusion.
"What I told her, as I said previously, we need an environment where all members of the NBA family feel comfortable to be in a celebratory environment," Silver said.
The NBA commissioner said this issue was personal to Michael Jordan.
"I think in particular for Michael, it was especially painful both as someone who grew up in North Carolina, went to college here, has a home, huge investments in this community - from a personal financial standpoint stood to lose the most by moving the All-Star Game. I think it spoke volumes about how important this issue is to the culture of the NBA," Silver said.
Silver continued, "I think Michael doesn’t often speak out on issues that are perceived as politically loaded, but I think it says a lot that this was one that where we had a common view about what was necessary to create the right environment for something like an All-Star game."
But what about 2019? Does HB2 need to be repealed?
"To me it’s not about a repeal specifically, it’s about changes - and that need to be made," Silver said.
Silver said he doesn't believe the state's relationship with the NBA is in jeopardy. He wants to see an inclusive environment.
"Hopefully once that happens we’ll have another ceremony, like we just had and announced, we’re bringing the All-Star Game here in 2019," Silver added.
The president of the Hornets, Fred Whitefield, said he is grateful Silver participated in the ribbon cutting.
"To find a way to make sure that the citizens of Charlotte know that the NBA has not turned their back on our great city," Whitfield said.