Michael Jordan, Nike leave mark on Laney High School

PortCityDaily.com is your source for free news and information in the Wilmington area.

The new entrance to Michael Jordan Gymnasium at Laney High School. Photos by Joe Catenacci
The new entrance to Michael Jordan Gymnasium at Laney High School. Photos by Joe Catenacci

The Fourth Annual Fred Lynch Invitational wrapped up across the area on Wednesday, but lasting results from a memorable three-day event will be evident moving into the school year after Michael Jordan Gymnasium underwent a face-lift over the past few weeks, thanks to the brand and athlete for which the gym is named.

Jordan Brand and Jumpman, which is owned by Nike to promote its Michael Jordan related merchandise, including the well-known and successful Air Jordan brand of basketball shoes, was in town to help make this year’s high school invite one to remember.

With 50 high school basketball teams from across the state competing in the tournament, Monday’s opening ceremony featured a question-and-answer session with Fred Lynch, Laney’s athletic director, and Ruby Sutton, both of whom taught or coached Jordan.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Jordan Brand paid to refurbish the gymnasium at Laney, adding new lighting, a fresh paint job and updated pictures of “His Airness,” which now hang on the walls inside the facility.

“All the support we’ve received from the community and Jordan Brand helped make this year’s invite one to remember,” said Laney High School Basketball Coach Nathan Faulk. “It’s a very exciting time to be at Laney and very proud time to be a Buccaneer. Participation was great. The energy was great and we’re just very happy to be a part of it.”

The renovations took about one week to complete as work wrapped up just in time for opening ceremonies at this year’s invitational. During the course of the invite, Jordan Brand also set up display cases with Jordan memorabilia from Laney, The University of North Carolina and the Chicago Bulls.

The foyer at Michael Jordan Gymnasium pays homage to its former greats.
The foyer at Michael Jordan Gymnasium pays homage to its former greats.

Charlotte Hornets players Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo joined  Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons at the event as the NBA professionals helped run a skills session for the high school players, while rapper Bow Wow performed on Monday night.

Each participant also had a chance to wear the newest Air Jordan XX9, Jordan Super.Fly 3, and Jordan Super.Fly 3 PO model sneakers.

Tournament champions were crowned on Wednesday as the Harrells Christian Academy boys and Flight 22 girls took home gold. Hoggard boys and Ashley girls placed second.

While these past few days have been a chance for teams to fine tune heading into the summer dead period over the next week or so, Faulk believes this is just the beginning of what has become a marquee event for basketball teams in the final week of June for years to come.

“Brand Jordan is a powerful icon and kids want to be here,” said Faulk. “They want to wear the shoes, wear the products. Everything Jordan Brand does is first-class. It’s very exciting and we look forward to this relationship and the brand being part of this. If anyone can top what was done this week, they can.”