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Campaign For Minor League Basketball

Basketball fan Dennis Justice sees a slam dunk opportunity.

"I'm trying to do this from a fan's point of view," he tells News 13, after launching a grassroots movement.

At an Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission meeting, Justice made his case for luring minor league basketball to the mountains again.

"Suggesting that we just look into seeing if the Charlotte Hornets are going to get an NBA development team soon," he told the commission.

Justice has launched "BEElieve In Asheville" to get the ball rolling on the idea. He hopes the Hornets will consider having a team affiliated exclusively with them, instead of sharing a team as they do now.

Asheville had a "D-league" franchise that played from 2001 to 2005, called the Altitude. They won two consecutive league championships, but were not a winner when it came to attendance.

"Well a lot of things are different," Justice says. "We've got a great sports commission now. There have been changes in the US Cellular Center which are frankly geared more toward basketball," he adds.

Former Mayor Terry Bellamy says we can't lose by at least pursuing the idea. "I think the City of Asheville's investment into the US Cellular Center should be used as an opportunity to recruit," says Bellamy.

As far as sports, the Asheville Tourists are the only enduring franchise. Sports Commission Executive Director, Ben Vancamp, wonders if there's enough room for another team, not to be a buzz-kill. "You know if we were to investigate this a little further, I think we'd want to do a study and see if the market can bear another professional team," says Vancamp.

Despite the doubts, Justice is determined to help build momentum and potentially help the Hornets bring home an NBA championship.

A spokesman for the Charlotte Hornets tells News 13 they have no plans for a new NBA Development team, but continue to evaluate ways to improve their franchise.

By: John Le
Follow John on Twitter @AbsoluteLe


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