Suns celebrate 50 years in Phoenix by renovating 50 Arizona basketball courts

Sep 22, 2017, 7:58 AM | Updated: 8:39 am
Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. made the first-ever basket on the newly-renovated Neighborhood Minis...
Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. made the first-ever basket on the newly-renovated Neighborhood Ministries basketball court with an alley-oop. (Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News).
(Photo by Eric Newman/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — A group of excited kids at Neighborhood Ministries, clad in black Phoenix Suns shirts and sitting on basketballs distributed by the team, awaited the chance to play on their new basketball court.

The full-size court, with new rims, purple and orange decorations and pictures of Suns legends such as Steve Nash and Charles Barkley surrounding the fence, is the first of 50 being renovated by the team throughout the state.

“It’s much more prettier,” a small girl in the crowd said Wednesday about a court that was once described as dangerous, slippery and ugly before the team resurfaced it and changed the entire look.

All 50 renovations are funded by a $1 million grant from Suns Charities to celebrate 50 seasons in the Valley.

“It’s great to see that we can make a positive influence on the face of a lot of youth around town, especially in areas that maybe don’t get the best news all the time,” Suns managing partner Robert Sarver said. “So for us to come in here, and offer some encouragement and build these courts and let these kids know we care about them and they’re part of the community and we’re right there with them, it’s a good feeling.”

Also up on the podium to speak to the kids was Suns forward Alan Williams, a 24-year-old who grew up in Phoenix.

He said opportunities to go visit kids on local courts has actually led him to venues where he played as a kid. He also remembered how important it was when he got chances to meet Suns players that he idolized, and now enjoys being on the other end, being somebody for local children to look up to.

“When they told us to come by and hang out with you guys today, it was never a hassle, it was never a strain or anything like that. It’s something that we look forward to doing,” he said.

Another player in attendance was forward Derrick Jones Jr., who, after making the court’s first basket off an alley-oop pass from Sarver, said he always wanted to meet an NBA player growing up in Pennsylvania.

However, following a less-than-stable rookie season after going undrafted out of UNLV, participating in the dunk contest and spending time in the NBA D-League with the Northern Arizona Suns, he said he had a strong desire to give back to a community that has now done so much for him.

“Doing things that never happened for me, it’s very special,” he said. “I love every moment that I’m out here with the kids. Hopefully they embrace this court, and hopefully I get to come out here a few times with them and come shoot around with them.”

Now with the initiative rolling, the Suns are set to start training camp in Flagstaff on Tuesday.

Penguin Air

Cronkite Sports

Cronkite Sports

Sports gambling in Arizona moves closer to reality

In the near future, the Arizona sports fan’s experience could include the ability to place bets inside sports venues while the action unfolds.
2 years ago
Higley quarterback Kai Millner committed to Cal this spring, despite visiting the campus just once ...
Cronkite Sports

Arizona high school football recruits still committing amid coronavirus

Despite visiting campuses few times if at all in some cases, class of 2021 high school football prospects from Arizona are committing at record rates.
2 years ago
(Photo via Cronkite News courtesy Mesa Community College Facebook)...
Arizona Sports

COVID-19 prompts junior colleges to push for cancellation of sports

The 2020-21 school year for Maricopa County community colleges may not include sports, schools await a decision by the district chancellor.
2 years ago
New Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez believes outreach in the Arizona Hispanic market is ...
Cronkite Sports

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez looks to reach Latino community

New Coyotes CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez is the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history and hopes to reach new fans in the Valley.
2 years ago
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who joined the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason, is ready to get the WNBA...
Cronkite Sports

Full pay, 22-game season in Florida on tap for Phoenix Mercury

Another league has agreed on a return-to-play plan in the month of July. This time it’s the WNBA, whose members include the Phoenix Mercury.
2 years ago
Phoenix Rising FC assistant coaches Peter Ramage (left) and Blair Gavin are awaiting details about ...
Cronkite Sports

Phoenix Rising players await news on resumption of USL Championship

Phoenix Rising FC and the USL Championship are set to resume play July 11 while players wait on more details for the return.
2 years ago
Suns celebrate 50 years in Phoenix by renovating 50 Arizona basketball courts