The Charlotte Hornets honored Rick Bonnell last night ahead of their home opener against the Indiana Pacers.
Bonnell, who passed away in June at the age of 63, had covered the team since its inception for the Charlotte Observer. As the video tribute notes, last night was the first Hornets game to ever be played without Bonnell on the Observer masthead.
Although tonight is the first game in the history of our franchise without Rick Bonnell, Rick and his family will always be a part of Buzz City. ? pic.twitter.com/2q3mB40mdp
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) October 21, 2021
The team is honoring Bonnell with more than just a video, too. Earlier this week, the Hornets announced a scholarship in Bonnell’s name that will go to a journalism student in the state of North Carolina, an annual award to a Hornets player, and the media entrance being named after him.
The Charlotte Hornets Foundation has created the Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship that will award $10,000 annually to a journalism student enrolled at a North Carolina college or university. Journalism students can apply online starting today. Applications will be accepted until November 30. The winner will be selected by a panel consisting of Hornets staff members, former Charlotte Observer colleagues and Bonnell’s children, Jack and Claire. The funding for this year’s $10,000 was supplied by donations made to the Charlotte Hornets Foundation in Bonnell’s memory.
Starting with the 2021-22 season, the Rick Bonnell Award will be given annually to a Hornets player that best represents himself and the franchise with professionalism and cooperation with regards to his interactions with the media. There will be an on-court trophy presentation with the award winner prior to a Hornets home game.
The Spectrum Center media and employee entrance will be rebranded as the Rick Bonnell Media & Employee Entrance. A photo collage of images from Bonnell’s career will greet media members on the event level as they make their way to the media work rooms.
Some of Bonnell’s former friends, colleagues, readers, and team personnel shared their thoughts on the team’s tribute.
Proud to recognize Rick for all his contributions to our franchise, our fans and our community. https://t.co/x2OEWd4tcI
— Mike Cristaldi (@mcristaldi) October 21, 2021
A remarkable tribute for a Charlotte sports legend.
— ⤴︎ (@JESSEDIEBOLT) October 21, 2021
— Adam Bell (@abell) October 21, 2021
This was so well done. while it was playing in arena on the big screen last night, someone in the stands yelled: “Love ya, Rick!” https://t.co/varR0vT0Uy
— Scott Fowler (@scott_fowler) October 21, 2021
— Chrysti Shain (@Chrysti) October 21, 2021
— Langston Wertz Jr. (@langstonwertzjr) October 21, 2021
Tremendous from the Hornets last night. True class. https://t.co/jEhj9afuaT
— Chris McClain (@macwfnz) October 21, 2021
In an era where players, staff, and even some organizations as a whole can occasionally take a combative stance towards media members, the Hornets’ actions are more than commendable. Bonnell clearly made an impact in the community, and spent decades of his life telling the team’s story. That kind of craft is what makes sports viable as a profession for so many people, and it’s awesome to see the Hornets understand that here.