Detroit Pistons, city unveil renovated basketball court in Palmer Park
Detroit — The basketball court in Palmer Park had became cracked and there were times in the past decade that the rims of the hoops didn't have nets.
That changed Thursday as members of the community watched as the Detroit Pistons and the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Foundation unveiled a renovated court.
The city's Parks and Recreation Department will continue maintenance of the court.
The first of two of the Pistons sponsored courts is entirely covered in a mural.
The unveiling marks the 17th of 60 courts the Pistons have renovated throughout Detroit and the completion of Phase II of the club's city courts renovation project. Within the next four years, the team has agreed to complete its $2.5 million investment in Detroit.
Sharon Gamblin, People for Palmer Park board member and events chair, was at the unveiling but in a sign of its impact in the community, she said children were playing on the court earlier in the week.
"The mural had been painted for less than a week and they were already utilizing the court in a different manner," Gamblin said after seeing a young boy shooting free throws from the newly painted free throw line.
"Most kids are going to go right up to the hoop," she said.
Gamblin said children were playing on the court even as the muralist was painting his art work on the court.
Jesse Kassel, who painted courts in downtown Detroit for Quicken Loans, described the mural's design as "an abstraction based on the energy of basketball."
Detroit Councilman Roy McCalister said the court renovation shows children in the city that organizations are investing in them.
The renovation isn't just an investment in equipment, McCalister said. It shows kids that organizations are "taking an interest in them as well."
At least 10 members of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan Foundation’s wheelchair basketball team were at the event, where the Pistons also announced a partnership with the team, which were dubbed the Detroit Wheelchair Pistons.
As a part of the partnership, the Pistons will provide financial resources, fundraising assistance and sponsorship of the wheelchair team.
The wheelchair team, made up of people with spinal cord injuries, amputations and other physical disabilities, plays in 15 national tournaments annually and are members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
"The Detroit Pistons have been supporters of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan for many years and we are pleased to extend this relationship to a sponsorship of RIMF's wheelchair basketball team," said Charlie Metzger, executive vice president and chief revenue and marketing officer for the Detroit Pistons.