In the Community: Hornets Refurbish Court in Lower Ninth Ward

Hornets Refurbish Court in Lower Ninth Ward

December 12, 2012

At 6-foot-6, 211 pounds, New Orleans Hornets third-year pro Greivis Vasquez has a size advantage against virtually every point guard he’s matched up against throughout the NBA season. On Monday, Dec. 10, Vasquez found himself on a basketball court squaring off against an opponent of lesser stature and athleticism, but one with a significant edge in experience – well, at least politically. Vasquez’s opposition for a brief game of one-on-one? The mayor of New Orleans.

Vasquez and Mayor Mitch Landrieu, along with Hornets general manager Dell Demps, were among the notable guests at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which officially re-opened the basketball court at Sam Bonart Playground in New Orleans East. The Hornets, the city of New Orleans and the Salvation Army teamed up to refurbish the court at the newly-renovated park.

“He’s a tough defensive player, and he wasn’t afraid of playing against an NBA player,” a grinning Vasquez assessed of Landrieu in his “postgame” scouting report. “He’s a little bit limited offensively, but he tried. He had a suit on, so I don’t think he wanted to get a sweat going, but at least he was willing to play me. It was fun.”

Children who live in the vicinity of Sam Bonart Playground will be able to enjoy similar fun for the foreseeable future. Full-scale usage of the outdoor basketball court began immediately, with the Hornets hosting a free clinic for neighborhood kids following Monday’s ceremony.

“The repairs to Sam Bonart Playground are another sign of renewal for the Lower Ninth Ward community,” Landrieu said. “As one of my Administration’s 100 committed capital projects, this park will once again be an important gathering place for young and old alike. I also want to thank the New Orleans Hornets and the Salvation Army for their commitment to help restoring the basketball shelter. Through strong partnerships, we are building the city we always knew we could be.”

The refurbished court at Sam Bonart Playground was the second completed by the Hornets and the Salvation Army this year, with two more soon to come in the New Orleans area.