All-Star Weekend is about more than just the parties and games for some, as NBA legend Kevin Garnett proved on Saturday afternoon when he unveiled the freshly painted basketball court at Cordelia Park as part of his ongoing Paint the Park.
Garnett launched Paint the Park in 2018 in partnership with AND1, where he serves as global ambassador and creative director. Cordelia Park was just the third court to get the Paint the Park treatment, which included a mural painted by Bay Area street artists The Illuminaries covering the entire court (see below) and new goals.
“There’s no better time to reactivate or to bring awareness to something than during All-Star Weekend,” Garnett told Queen City Nerve on Saturday. “It’s to reactivate these communities. These kids are not on these courts, they’re not outside playing. I want to bring some inspiration to this whole community.”
Despite the chilly weather, plenty of community members showed up to the unveiling event to hear tracks from DJ Set-Free and be the first to play on the new court. Garnett stamped the southern end of the court with his signature. He said Saturday’s event was a way for him to leave a lasting impact on the city that will outlive All-Star Weekend.
“The All-Star Game will be here Friday to Sunday, and after it’s gone on Monday it will have came and went through the city of Charlotte,” Garnett said. “This court will be here forever, or for as long as they have this park here, so every day you get up you’re going to pass this park. If you’re trying to better yourself, or you’re a baller, it’s going to inspire you to come out.”
Charlotte City Council District 1 representative Larken Egleston was on hand Saturday to celebrate the beautification of one of his district’s parks. He said the event was all the more meaningful for him because he grew up idolizing Garnett as a young NBA fan.
“It’s nice to see these guys continuing to give back even after their careers are over in the NBA,” Egleston said. “All-Star Weekend is not just about the games and the parties for this one week, it’s about making investments and leaving behind things that the community can continue to enjoy for years to come.”
Garnett was honored by Mosaic Genius last year for his philanthropic work alongside fellow NBA retiree Devean George and retired Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson. The trio, all of whom run their own respective charitable organizations, formed Charles, Garnett and George in 2016.
CGG funds the construction of affordable housing complexes across the country. When asked about his work with CGG on Saturday, Garnett said it’s an issue that he’s familiar with through personal experience.
“I was a kid that grew up in that, I understand it,” he said. “I know how hard it is for families sometimes to be able to understand that whole balance of limited options when trying to find housing. When you’ve got different pay scales and different economic levels, it’s good to have something like that, so we were just trying to bring quality housing to people who have trouble with that and bring a solution.”
Mecklenburg County Commissioner George Dunlap was also in attendance Saturday, and he praised the impacts of the NBA’s big weekend in Charlotte.
“The NBA has made an indelible impression upon the citizens of this community,” Dunlap said. “I have traveled across this city and watched as they have really changed the face of Mecklenburg County. There have been so many projects and so many things that they have done to improve the lives of the citizens of Mecklenburg County. So I want to thank them for today’s event and Kevin for even coming and being a part of this. Too many times people make promises and they don’t show up, but he’s here, so we’re really thankful for that.”