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Mayor Reed, Dominique Wilkins unveil Atlanta Hawks basketball court at Grant Park

Mayor Kasim Reed christens the spectacular new Atlanta Hawks court at Grant Park (Photos by Terry Shropshire for Atlanta Daily World and Real Times Media).
Mayor Kasim Reed christens the spectacular new Atlanta Hawks court at Grant Park (Photos by Terry Shropshire for Atlanta Daily World and Real Times Media).

ATLANTA – Having basketball luminaries Dominique Wilkins and Kevin Willis, two pillars of proud Atlanta Hawks lore, in attendance for the brand new courts added panache to an already momentous occasion. Willis even perfected his rim-rattling dunks and low-post moves on the old court decades ago.

Local luminaries Kevin Willis, left, and Dominique Wilkins were on hand to bestow their blessings on the new court for the Center of Hope.

But the real heroes who got the brand new Atlanta Hawks basketball courts that decorate Grant Park stand about 12 inches shorter (or more) than the hardwood heavyweights Wilkins and Willis. Mayor Kasim Reed, in collaboration with Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, Councilwoman Carla Smith and Amy Phuong of Parks and Recreation, christened two new spectacular basketball courts on Tuesday afternoon in the historic, picturesque neighborhood, with the proceedings taking place, appropriately enough, under the bright ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Current Atlanta Hawks players also showed support for the new courts.

Funded by the Atlanta Hawks Foundation, the outdoor basketball court features the team’s new red, black and neon green uniform colors, and is available for Center of Hope youth participants and local residents to enjoy. The basketball court is the third renovation project completed this year by the foundation in collaboration with DPR.

“The Atlanta Hawks are an exemplary community partner in helping ensure that our  Centers of Hope have the necessary tools to better serve Atlanta’s young people,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “Facilities such as this new basketball court keep our young people involved in positive, healthy activities and ensure a better future for them. I’m certain that Center of Hope participants and Atlanta residents will utilize this basketball court for years to come with great pride.”

Amy Phuong, commissioner of Atlanta’s Parks and Recreation, with Mayor Reed and the Hawks mascot.

“Today’s celebration was the culmination of a terrific year in our ongoing partnership with the Atlanta Hawks,” said DPR Commissioner Amy Phuong. “Because of this investment at Grant Park and the work the Atlanta Hawks have done in our other facilities and parks, we are able to provide communities with high quality assets that enhance neighborhoods and encourage residents to get out, get social and get active.”

Earlier this year the Atlanta Hawks Foundation partnered with DPR on a teen room makeover at the Center of Hope at Pittman Park. The Hawks also refurbished a branded basketball court at the Center of Hope at Bessie Branham Park, done with support from CBA Sports who installed the special court flooring.

Councilwoman Carla Smith, left, and Atlanta Hawks owner/CEO Steve Koonin.

During the event, DPR also revealed the new Junior Atlanta Hawks uniforms, resembling the Atlanta Hawks uniforms, which more than 1,000 youth participating in the city-wide basketball program will wear.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Grant Park was the setting for basketball games played by NBA all-stars who made their off-season home Atlanta, as well as local playground legends. The court has maintained its popularity throughout the years and remains one of the city’s most-used public courts.

Several people blessed the new Atlanta Hawks Basketball Court by taking the first shots, including Atlanta’s first lady Sarah-Elizabeth Reed.

Take a look at some of the photographic highlights from the unveiling of the new Atlanta Hawks basketball courts for the Center of Hope at Grant Park.

After the ceremonies, Hawks cheerleaders instructed young girls in the art of their craft while, below on the main court, kids were put through exercises often practiced by the professionals.

Amy Phuong (above), Commissioner of the City of Atlanta Parks & Recrecreation, makes a layup on her first try on the new Atlanta Hawks basketball court.

Former player-turned-analyst Mike Glenn, right, laughs it up with a tyke prior to the unveiling.