RICK TELANDER: B.J. Armstrong helping lead renovation of 100 courts in Chicago

SHARE RICK TELANDER: B.J. Armstrong helping lead renovation of 100 courts in Chicago

LONDON - OCTOBER 3: Former NBA player B.J. Armstrong speaks to children at a Special Olympic Clinic during the 2009 NBA Europe Live on October 3, 2009 at Turnpike Lane in London, England. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Do you love hoops?

Do you love the culture of basketball, the beauty of the game, the freedom that comes with playing pick-up ball on sweet outdoor courts?


Then Chicago is your city.

In fact, unless some other place (New York, you’ve been asleep since Herman “The Helicopter” flew out of Harlem) claims the title, Chicago should declare itself “Basketball City, USA.”


Because by the middle of next summer, the Chicago Park District will have rebuilt, refurbished, repainted and repolished 100 basketball courts on playgrounds from Rogers Park to Jackson Park, from Hyde Park to Humboldt Park.

“This is the single largest basketball court renovation the Chicago Park District has ever seen,” said park district communications and marketing director Jessica Maxey-Faulkner. “We estimate each court will cost $25,000 for a total of $2.5 million.”

This will pay for “resurfacing of basketball courts, seal coating and striping, drainage improvements, new backboards and supports,” Maxey-Faulkner said. If you have seen the new Murray Park in Englewood, Derrick Rose’s old playground, then you know a rehab will turn pothole-dotted, uneven slabs of pavement with rusted poles at each end into mini-hoop heavens.

Yes, the city is nearly broke, but there are capital funds, believe it or not, in the park district coffers that will pay for this. And park district employees will do the actual grunt work.

Oh, it’s a splendid moment for Chicago hoops. And it comes about because Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who recently gave us our libraries back, loves basketball and believes functioning outdoor courts should be part of the gift of living in this city and part of the educational mission.

After all, safe, clean, public sporting venues lead to a more civilized urban environment.

To make it all happen, Emanuel tapped former Bull and current sports agent B.J. Armstrong to be a vice chairman in the park district with the specific task of seeing this beautification to its completion.

“The mayor asked me to help refurbish the basketball courts, and I am honored to do it for several reasons,” said Armstrong, who won three NBA championships while playing beside Michael Jordan in the early 1990s. “One, basketball is just a great experience. Two, because playing in an environment that is safe is a true gift. Growing up, that’s what you did. You went to the park, and you played basketball. I just thought it was an excellent way to give back to the community.”

Armstrong, who was raised in Detroit and starred at the University of Iowa before the Bulls drafted him in the first round in 1989, said that Chicago is now, truly, his home.

“I love this city,” he said. “I feel I should be a responsible citizen. Anything I can do to help the community, I will. I feel a great responsibility to see this project through. You know how people have great ideas and nothing comes of them? Not this. This is from the heart.”

Of course, it can’t go unnoticed that Armstrong is the agent for a fellow named Rose, who happens to be a pretty big advocate for safe basketball courts. But Armstrong hasn’t talked to Rose, or any of the players he represents, about this.

But might the Bulls’ star point guard get involved?

“I’m not sure,” Armstrong said. “It’s not about them.”

Nope, it’s about Basketball City, USA.

People who worry about the violence and gang crimes that sometimes occur on courts shouldn’t be against this project.

“The bigger picture is education,” Armstrong said. “Civility and learning. If fights occur on a hoops court, well, they might have occurred in far worse form somewhere else.”

To those who say city basketball courts should be dismantled rather than improved, Maxey-Faulkner said, “We believe basketball, like other sports, provides a constructive outlet and promotes physical activity.”

Armstrong said outdoor hoops is a joy. For him, it transcends even his NBA titles.

“You’re playing outside with all the things that matter,” he said. “I miss it so much. There’s just something about it.”

The project title, by the way, is “Slam Dunk.”

And it’s on.

The Latest
The match, on May 25, 1965, was one of the more significant sporting events of the 20th century and resulted in what some call the greatest sports photo of all time. It all happened in a town that last year was the scene of a horrific mass shooting.
Student requesting a graduation gift is a stranger, except for being offspring of a former bestie who let the friendship die off.
If Joe Biden has a serious brain freeze or incoherent digression, he and we are in terrible trouble. If the same happens to Donald Trump, the consequences for him would likely be less dire because his cult is fanatical, though it would remind undecided voters that Trump is only three years younger than Biden -- and it is Trump who had a parent with Alzheimer’s disease.
Now planning to open a second location, Huynh says the coffee shop is a way to share his family’s story and build community, embodying a path of “creating better habits, making better decisions.”
Jim Moriarty was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies on May 24, 2023, after a carjacking and chase and repeated comments about “suicide by cop” amid what people close to him called a mental health breakdown.