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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION ANNOUNCEMENT
June 23, 2015
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Good morning, everybody.¬† We are thrilled that you are here today for what we think is a very momentous occasion and announcement.¬† Also want to welcome those‑‑ this announcement goes beyond the boundaries of this building as a matter of fact. ¬†I want to welcome those who are watching this press conference live on NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA Game Time app, also on Hornets.com, and on the 14 or so iPhones I saw on the way in.
On stage with us today we have NBA Commissioner Adam Silver; Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan; Hornets President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield; our Mayor of the City of Charlotte, Dan Clodfelter; also Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Trevor Fuller; and last but not least, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.
Before we begin, we'd like to take a moment of silence to remember the victims of last week's tragic incident in Charleston.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you.¬† At this time I'd like to present NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
ADAM SILVER:¬† Thank you.¬† I thought it was going to be a secret and then I saw the backdrop behind me, but it's my pleasure to announce that Charlotte is going to be the host of the 2017 NBA All‑Star Game.
It's my privilege to be up here to thank so many people who are involved in making this event possible, and I would say it's been in the works for years.¬† But first of all, it begins with principal owner Michael Jordan, who of course is a 14‑time All‑Star himself.¬† So thank you, Michael, for making this happen.
Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter, thank you very much.¬† You've been a terrific partner.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, we've known each other for a long time.¬† You've been incredibly helpful to the league.¬† Thank you very much.
Chairman Trevor Fuller, thank you very much for your assistance.
The guy who really did all the work, team president Fred Whitfield.
I also want to recognize Fred's partner, Curtis Polk, who is vice president of the organization, who also was very involved in making this happen.¬† So thank you, Curtis.
Just a few things I want to add.¬† The Charlotte Hornets are a first‑in‑class organization in this league.¬† It's been amazing to see what Michael and this organization have done here in Charlotte over the last several years.
Awarding an All‑Star is an honor for the league, but it's a complicated bidding process.¬† Several teams were interested, and I want to say it's an ultimate compliment to this organization that put their heart and soul into this bid, all the way down to including bringing Hugo to the Hornet to New York for part of the presentation.¬† They were all in on this one, so I want to thank you very much.
I also want to, just because I saw you just come in, recognize another All‑Star, 11‑time All‑Star Patrick Ewing, associate head coach, is here.¬† Thank you, Patrick.¬† And of course head coach [Steve] Clifford.¬† Great to have here you, as well.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to talk about my college years in North Carolina, and maybe I shouldn't say anything about Duke because they recently won the National Championship.¬† But I know that North Carolina has an incredible tradition of basketball here.¬† I'm now looking over at Dell Curry, of course a longtime friend.¬† One of your very own was just recently our MVP of the regular season and obviously a star in winning the NBA Finals.¬† Dell, congratulations to you and your family.¬† It's tremendous.
Lastly, I just want to say a few things about what All‑Star, and really what's become All‑Star week, will mean for this community.¬† Not only will the attention be on Charlotte and on the state of North Carolina, but the entire NBA community will be focused here for a week full of activities.¬† Our All‑Star Game is now carried in 215 countries, in 50 different languages.¬† We have nearly 2,000 members of the media who will come into your town to broadcast these events.¬† There is, of course the game itself, but one of our hallmarks are the events we bring to the community around All‑Star.¬† For example, last [All-Star] we were in New York City, we had hands‑on clinics, engagement with boys and girls for hundreds of thousands of kids, and it was about fitness, it was about the game of basketball, it was about competing, it was about all the wonderful values of this game.¬† That's what we want to bring to the Charlotte community around All‑Star, and we're in the process of working with Fred to put those programs in place now.
Our goal is for All‑Star to have a lasting impact on your community, so it's the game, but it's all those wonderful events that happen around it.
I'd just say that I'm looking forward to being down here for All‑Star.¬† As I said, the world's attention, literally the world's attention, will be focused on Charlotte for that week in 2017, and we can't wait to get it started.¬† Thank you, all, very much.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you very much, Commissioner Silver.¬† Of course this is not Charlotte's first time around at the All‑Star rodeo, so let's take a look at the video and take a look at times past with the All‑Star Game and Charlotte.
That was 24 years ago.¬† I had hair back then.¬† It's now on the side of my head.
But it is my pleasure to introduce a man who among his many, many accomplishments in the game of basketball has appeared in 13 NBA All‑Star Games.¬† He's Hornets Chair Michael Jordan.
MICHAEL JORDAN:¬† Thank you.¬† What a great day for Charlotte.¬† When I think about the times that I played here, and obviously in the '91 All‑Star Game, it was truly a pleasure to play in front of home, and I'm looking forward to that type of attitude again.¬† I think the energy here within the city has grown over the last five, six years that I've been here and been involved with the team.
We would have never been able to have this without these gentlemen participating and obviously supporting the organization and providing us an opportunity to put the All‑Star Game here.¬† So we want to thank you guys for believing in us, and obviously the Commissioner for allowing us to bring the game back.
I think the fans, you guys are looking forward to an unbelievable opportunity to see some of the best athletes in the world, and we get the chance to showcase it here in Charlotte.¬† Over the years, I think we have shown exactly what basketball means to us as a city and as a state, and I don't think it's going to stop with the next All‑Star Game, 2017.
It's been fun, and as an owner and actually playing in the All‑Star Game, I can imagine what the players are going to feel and the energy they're going to feel.¬† And hopefully we're going to have some players, some of our own players playing in the All‑Star Game so they can get that feeling.¬† You guys are going to have some hands in that in terms of the fan voting, Commissioner, and hopefully some guys earn their rights.
We've had some unbelievable support around this community.¬† Novant Health, who has been probably one of the biggest supporters of the Hornets over the last five years, SportSouth, Bank of America, all of the community people that have supported, we want to thank you.¬† This is all about what you guys have asked for.¬† It's all about what you guys have earned from the support of the Hornets, and we feel privileged to bring the game and support the game here back in Charlotte, and we want to thank everybody for participating.¬† We look forward to having a great, great time.
Enjoy, and look forward to 2017.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Before I bring up our next speaker, I'd like to recognize Antawn Jamison, who just came in just a few minutes ago.¬† Nice to have you here, a Charlotte native.
Next let's hear from Charlotte Mayor Dan Clodfelter.
HON. DAN CLODFELTER:¬† Good morning.¬† Michael, you thanked us for believing in you.¬† Let me tell you, we do believe in you.¬† We believe in our Hornets, don't we?¬† It's great to see you all here to show that this morning.¬† And it's also great to be back here after 21 years.¬† We hope we don't have such a drought going forward.¬† Mr.Commissioner, maybe we can show you such a good time that you'll want to be back even sooner.
There are some other people I need to thank this morning in addition to Commissioner Silver and the NBA and of course to Michael Jordan and our own Hornets.¬† I need to also thank Tom Murray and the CRVA, who are here with us this morning. ¬†Also Johnny Harris and the Charlotte Sports Foundation, who are here, for all of their hard work to partner with the other folks you see up here on stage to help make this morning possible.
All‑Star weekend is just going to be an incredible opportunity for us to showcase our city on an international stage.
The All‑Star Game this year was seen by fans in over 215 countries, and it was broadcast in 47 languages all around the world, both through traditional broadcast media and also through digital technologies.¬† We think our city really is tops at hosting major events like this, and when it comes to this All‑Star event, we intend to sort of prove that.
As you all know, we host a number of major events, the Belk Bowl, the ACC Football Championship, the Wells Fargo Championship, three NASCAR races, the CIAA tournament.¬† We're really excited to add the All‑Star Game to that list in 2017.¬† I think some of you were also at the announcement a little earlier this year that we're going to host the PGA Championship in 2017.¬† We're going to host the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 2018, the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament in 2019.¬† I've got to find out, Ron Kimble, why we missed any tournament along the way.¬† That's going to be in your performance evaluation, that we missed somebody somewhere along the way.¬† I want to know why we've missed somebody.
The NBA All‑Star Game is just an event that really many cities don't get to host, so we're lucky to have such a tremendous economic opportunity.¬† We're ready to give them a true Queen City welcome, and we're looking forward to hosting them all in the 2017 festivities.¬† Let's show them a good Queen City welcome this morning.¬† Thank you.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you very much, Mr.Mayor.¬† And now representing the Mecklenburg County Commission, please welcome Chairman Trevor Fuller.
TREVOR FULLER:¬† Well, thank you, and good morning.¬† What a great day.¬† A great day for Charlotte, yet another one, where we are being recognized as a true top city.¬† The 2017 NBA All‑Star Game being here is another testament to what we can do in Charlotte and in Mecklenburg County.¬† I represent the County Commission and I bring you greetings on behalf of the nine members of the Mecklenburg County Commission.¬† We represent over one million people who call Mecklenburg County home.¬† So to have the NBA All‑Star Game here is another testament to the community that we're trying to build here in Mecklenburg County.
There are so many things that we do, and let me just take a point of personal privilege if you don't mind.¬† I can't help but recognize, I'm a Georgetown Hoya, okay, I graduated from Georgetown.¬† Michael, I love you.¬† You know I love you.¬† But my man Patrick Ewing is in the house, and I've got to give him props.¬† Hoya!
I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.¬† Please forgive me.
But what we are trying to do in Mecklenburg County, our job is to help develop human capital.¬† So it's great to have the game itself, but more than that it's the activities that surround the game that will interest children in physical activity and physical fitness.¬† The idea of being involved in sports and being connected with the NBA is going to be such an attraction for the students here in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, so we're really glad to be a part of this whole event.
Now, many people took part in bringing this together, and that is a hallmark of our community, that we work together:¬† City, county, profit sector, nonprofit, the team.¬† We've all worked together to bring this to be.¬† It's another example of the can‑do spirit of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
So I'm glad that we're here together to celebrate this moment, and Commissioner Silver, thank you for making the final decision.¬† I'll put it on you, making the final decision to bring the NBA All‑Star Game for 2017 to Charlotte.¬† From one commissioner to another, thank you, and welcome.¬† Look forward to 2017.¬† Thank you.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you, Chairman Fuller.
Whenever we can get this man back in the 704 and the 980, it's always nice to have our long‑standing, long‑serving mayor, Mr.McCrory, who is our governor, the Governor of the State of North Carolina, Pat McCrory.
HON. PAT McCRORY:¬† It's good to be back home with a great announcement.¬† Congratulations to everyone involved.¬† This is great for the city of Charlotte, the Charlotte region, and all of North Carolina.
There's some history to this, and I firmly believe in remembering history, and history really involves Michael Jordan, All‑Star, in the Charlotte region, and it goes back to 1984, the first time that Michael Jordan played in an All‑Star Game in this region, and it was at Brown High School right down the street in Kannapolis, where he played in an ACC barnstorming game right after his junior year and right before the Summer Olympics of 1984, where he became literally a superstar.
In that game, a courageous young 27‑year‑old referee called traveling on Michael Jordan.¬† Here's the picture of Pat McCrory calling traveling on Michael Jordan.¬† (Laughter.)
I've aged quite a bit since then, and Michael Jordan still says that it was a bad call, that he never traveled.¬† Right, Patrick?¬† He never traveled.
The next form of history came in 1991, where we hosted our first All‑Star Game, and some incredible business leaders and political leaders at that time helped make that happen.¬† It was quite an event at the old Charlotte Coliseum.
Now, in between '91, where Michael scored I think 26 points in that game and they won the game by [two points] on a controversial call at the end where I was not the referee, between '91 and today, Charlotte has gone through an incredible partnership with the NBA.¬† We went through a period of time when I was mayor, and I hate to have this on my r√©sum√©, where we lost the Hornets, but thankfully due to some strong leadership that's included in this crowd, we got the NBA to come back to Charlotte.
I was very proud of that.¬† And we are also wise during that period of time in 2004‑2005 period of time to know that if we're going to continue to have all these great events come to Charlotte, we needed an arena right in the center city.¬† We promised as leaders at that time that we'd create synergy like you've never seen before, and it's happened beyond any of our expectations, how Charlotte has changed since we built the arena right here at this incredible block, incredible site, and Johnny and others really helped lead that effort, and I was part of that team, and it was an honor to be part of that team.
I see many of the people in the audience, but there's no doubt that that's had an impact on this decision, because as the chairman says, it's not just about what happens on the floor, it's all the happenings in and around the blocks in this area and the entire Charlotte region.
And now, Michael Jordan still has an impact.¬† He's bringing the NBA All‑Star back in 2017.¬† And I just want to say thank you, Michael, to your commitment to North Carolina.¬† You've always had that commitment since growing up in Wilmington.¬† You've always had that commitment to the Charlotte region, and it's great to have someone come back home and continue to make a difference.
And Mr.Commissioner, we've always appreciated the relationship.¬† During the tough times and during the good times, you never gave up on Charlotte, and I just want to personally thank you now as governor and as former mayor.¬† You never gave up on Charlotte, and this means a lot to us.
I make one promise to you, Mr.Commissioner, that if you need a referee for the 2017 game, I offer my services, but I will not call traveling on Dell's son.¬† (Laughter.)¬† Or on the many Hornet players that will be All‑Stars in 2017.
Coach, congratulations.¬† Congratulations, Charlotte, congratulations, North Carolina, and to the great Hornets organization, thank you, and God bless you.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you very much, Governor, and the guy at the top of that Hornets organization is our next speaker.¬† He is President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield.
FRED WHITFIELD:¬† First of all, I'd like to thank Michael for allowing us to put something else on our plate to take care of in 2017.¬† Commissioner, we assure you we'll do a great job and make you proud.
I'd like to thank Governor McCrory and Mayor Clodfelter and Chairman Fuller for taking time out of their busy schedules to be with us.¬† Their presence just underlines the support we received from all sides on this bid process.
But before we conclude, I'd be remiss if I didn't take just a moment and recognize some of the people that have been really instrumental.¬† I know Adam gave me a huge compliment in saying I did all the work, but this was truly, truly a team effort.
So in addition to Commissioner Silver, I'd like to thank Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, Danny Meiseles, Myles Pistorius and their team at the NBA for all their hard work on this; Ron Carlee, Ron Kimble and their team; for Mecklenburg County, Dena Diorio and her team; from CRVA, Tom Murray, Mike Crum and Mike Butts, your efforts were just phenomenal.¬† And from the Charlotte Sports Foundation, Johnny Harris, thanks very much, Steve Luquire and Will Webb; additional members of our All‑Star bid advisory committee, Michael Smith, I see many of you here, Bob Morgan, Judy Rose, Robert Krumbine, Brooks Luquire.¬† We put together a really compelling bid package just to try to let the NBA know just how badly this city as a whole wanted to host this game.
Obviously our City Council and County Commissioners, thank you so much for your support, and certainly, last but not least, my teammates here at the Hornets.¬† I want to start with Vice Chairman Curtis Polk for your support and belief in us really taking on this endeavor, and our senior executives Pete Guelli, James Jordan, Donna Julian, Seth Bennett, Travis Ferguson and Joe Pierce.¬† We spent enormous hours in our conference room trying to figure out with our other teammates how we could get this across the finish line.
And finally, Novant Health, one of our longstanding partners.¬† Michael mentioned five years; you guys have actually been with us 10 years, but you've really taken it to another level since Michael became our majority owner, and so thank you for your support, Carl Armato and Jesse Cureton.
I'd also like to recognize Kim Henderson.¬† She's here with us on the front row.¬† She led this bid process on behalf of our team and our organization, and her leadership was just through the roof and really connecting everybody in this community, connecting with the NBA, and making sure we could get this across the finish line.¬† She's since returned to Novant, so congratulations on that, but thanks for getting this across the finish line for us.
This is an incredible, incredible opportunity for our city and for Time Warner Cable Arena.¬† As stewards of Time Warner Cable Arena for the city of Charlotte, we always have every intention to bring the best entertainment to this area, and we're eager to host the best basketball players in the world right here All‑Star Weekend in 2017.
We like to say here at Time Warner Cable Arena that we are the premier destination of sports and entertainment in the Carolinas, but for one weekend in 2017, we will be the premier destination of sports and entertainment in the world.¬† We look forward to welcoming you, Commissioner and the NBA, and look forward to having a successful event here in Time Warner Cable Arena.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† Thank you very much, Fred.¬† We're about to open up for questions from the media for our speakers, but before we do that, a brief note.¬† At the conclusion of the event we're going to have additional spokespeople from the Hornets, Novant Health and CRVA available at one or the other side of the stage, and to moderate our Q&A, I'd like to welcome Hornets director of communication, Josh Rosen.
JOSH ROSEN:¬† Thank you, Steve.¬† Before we get started, just a couple of brief reminders for our media.¬† When asking questions, please give your name and affiliation and also identify who your question is for.¬† We ask that you wait for a microphone before asking your question and that you please limit your questions to the topic at hand about today's announcement.¬† With that, we'll go ahead and get started.
Q.¬† Michael, as Fred indicated, you guys have had an awful lot on your plate lately, between the rebranding and the trip to China and everything else going on.¬† I was just curious why you guys thought this was a priority to pursue this right now considering everything else that's been going on with the organization.
MICHAEL JORDAN:¬† Yeah, it's been a busy five years in the sense of really trying to establish ourselves as a brand, reconnecting back with the community.¬† There was a disconnect for some time.¬† And just trying to get this thing on the right road.
There have been a lot of things in the mix of that, from our community motivations to the name change to now, the All‑Star Game.¬† It's just a constant process of getting back to the top.¬† At one time this city and this team was on top.¬† We took a long fall and we took a change of direction, a change of address, and here we're back.¬† And we feel it's imperative that we start this road back toward the top, and these events that we have gone through over the last five years are our passage back to the top.
Yeah, it's been a lot of work.¬† Fred knows that.¬† Our team knows that.¬† And unfortunately those are the things you have to do to get to the top.¬† You don't get to the top laying around staying in bed.¬† You've got to get out of bed and you've got to move in the right direction.¬† I had to crack the whip.¬† We had to keep it going.¬† We've got to get to the top.¬† It's just that simple.¬† So it's been busy.¬† It has.
Q.¬† Commissioner, when you first became Commissioner, came here in March of 2014, you said in order for the All‑Star Game to return to Charlotte you needed to see some upgrades.¬† Are you satisfied with the upgrades you've seen in Time‑Warner Cable Arena?
ADAM SILVER:¬† Yeah, I'm absolutely satisfied.¬† We worked closely with Fred Whitfield and Michael and Curtis Polk on the community development plan for the arena, and I think as you know, whether it's the scoreboard or suite upgrades or other aspects of the arena, it's worth pointing out that as I was part of this program, as Fred said, as Michael said, this arena has become the center of the community.¬† And so while it's important for the Hornets, I think it's important for the entire community and all the events that take place here.
We're very satisfied.¬† They were showing me around the building this morning, and there's actually construction going on as we speak on the other side of the arena.
Q.¬† Michael and Adam, if both of you could talk about since you've seen a number of All‑Star Games from various perspectives, what do the cities who do this best, what do they tend to do?¬† What are the ingredients that make up a really good All‑Star week?
MICHAEL JORDAN:¬† I can talk from a player; you want to talk from a commissioner?¬† In terms of a player, one of the things I think is very attractive here in Charlotte is the commitment from the community in terms of their interest in the game.¬† As a player, that's very motivating.¬† When you go out and you step in front of the fans in an All‑Star Game, representing not just the league but your team, respective teams from where you come from, and to get that support from the local team shows the gravitation of how the game has evolved, how the game has spread worldwide, and it's support that comes throughout the league.¬† So as a player, playing in Charlotte or playing in New York or playing in some of the small markets, the enthusiasm coming from that community representing in terms of how the game is being transcended not just in your city but all throughout the world.
ADAM SILVER:¬† I'm not sure I can improve on that answer.¬† It's actually very similar from my perspective.¬† I think the communities that make the best All‑Star hosts are those that are all in, in terms of the involvement in all aspects of the city.¬† So it's not just about the events we have at the arena or maybe a few isolated community events we have.
For example, as I was talking about earlier, at All‑Star [in 2015], we used two different arenas ¬ó and by the way, we're going to use more than one arena in this community when we bring All‑Star here.¬† We had all five boroughs of New York City involved.¬† We had clinics in all five boroughs.
We brought in, and I know we have the same plans here, just in our last All‑Star we had 150 NBA legends who were part of All‑Star Weekend.¬† In addition to the players on the teams, who were elected by the fans or by their coaches as All‑Stars, we had another 60 NBA current players who came into the market to be part of the All‑Star festivities.
So I think it's exactly what Michael says.¬† What makes a great All‑Star experience is when All‑Star truly becomes the basketball center of the world for that moment.¬† And remember, this past season, we had over 100 of our players were born outside the United States.¬† So I think for them, coming into a community, they have journalists from their home country, they know that all the events are being carried, whether on traditional television or digital media, and I think it really is true, it becomes the basketball epicenter in the entire world for that week.¬† That to us makes it a success.
Q.¬† Michael, not only an opportunity to showcase the city of Charlotte and the Carolinas to the world, but you look at this and your team as an opportunity to showcase the Hornets?
MICHAEL JORDAN:¬† Yeah, every opportunity we can showcase ourselves, we want to do it.¬† In all honesty, I think the All‑Star Game provides us an opportunity to show globally that we exist, we compete, we are part of the whole process.¬† In October, we go to China.¬† So that's another extension of what we're trying to do with the brand itself.
So yeah, we look forward to doing that.¬† But it's not just going to be about the Hornets when we're here for All‑Star, it's going to be about the game of basketball.¬† You're going to have a lot of different representations from a lot of different teams.¬† So I think being on that stage with those other teams strengthens the brand of the NBA, and we know that even as an organization that's a part of the NBA.
I think that we have our own individual goals, but we know it's a bigger picture out there in terms of the game of basketball.
Q.¬† Michael, you talked about changing the name of the Hornets by getting a lot of feedback from the fans.¬† What kind of feedback and how much did that play a role in getting this event?
MICHAEL JORDAN:¬† You can't believe the excitement.¬† As the Commissioner said, this was supposed to be a surprise today.¬† It's amazing it is not.¬† That shows you the excitement that the people have received or that they have had over this announcement.¬† To me that means we have done the right thing.¬† We have gone out, we've sought the information from the community, from the leaders within the community.¬† We have taken it to the Commissioner.¬† We had to plead our case that this could be a great All‑Star Game for the city and for the organization, and the response has been very, very positive.
We hope that it will continue and that more people get involved and get excited about 2017.¬† We think it will be.¬† We've got a lot of work in between.¬† As the Commissioner knows, we've got to continue to improve the building.¬† I'm pretty sure we're going to have some conversations with the community and with the leaders in the community about things we need to do to make sure that our city is going to be represented properly, and that's a process, we know that.¬† But the excitement is there.¬† We feel that.
STEVE MARTIN:¬† That concludes the formal part of today's announcement.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports