Hoop Dreams

Reading this month’s cover package made me realize all over again that I need to do a better job of exploring our fine parks. Sure, I’ve strolled Freedom Park, taken a few laps on the burgeoning Little Sugar Creek greenway, and played softball at Park Road Park. I’ve rafted at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and I even spent one summer riding the mountain bike trails at Renaissance Park. But after poring over writer Annie Monjar’s excellent work, I have a new list of spaces to visit.

That said, I believe our park system could use some enhance- ments. I have an idea. I submitted the idea to the Center City 2020 Vision Plan committee and wrote about it on my blog, but, given our cover this month, decided to also share it here. Let me know what you think:
North Carolina loves basketball. A hoop is standard issue on most driveways. From January to March, basketball talk dominates water cooler conversation. And of course, Charlotte boasts the state’s only NBA team.

Yet it can be difficult to find the best pick-up games. I think the center city needs a basketball park. In New York City, Rucker Park is a mecca for pick-up hoops. NBA players test their mettle there, and ESPN shows summer league games. Charlotte needs its own Rucker Park.

The park could have four courts, each named for a famous North Carolina basketball player (fellows named Jordan and Thompson come to mind). Commission statues of said players (tourist photo op!). Put up bleachers and lights. Locate it near transit. With the proper setup, it will become the place where the best local players congregate and where visiting hoopsters know to find a good game. Uptown workers could steal over on their lunch hour and watch some great pickup hoops. The park could host a streetball league, nonprofit three-on-three tournaments, and Bobcats’ open scrimmages. Locals like Antawn Jamison and Stephen Curry could hold celebrity exhibition games for charity. And people like me could head downtown on the weekend to play a little ball.

It would be an attraction that appeals to diverse audiences. We don’t have enough of those in the center city. And it would get people outside, interacting with the center city. We don’t have enough of that, either.

Categories: Editor’s Note, Opinion, The Buzz