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Volume 25 No. 27
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Weekend Plans With Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield: Charlotte Life, MLK Day

Hornets President & COO FRED WHITFIELD has long been a staple in the Charlotte community, and this weekend he will balance a two-game homestand with several local philanthropic efforts ahead of MLK Day. The Hornets host the Jazz on Friday night ahead of a Saturday night tilt against the Thunder, and Whitfield will be at Spectrum Center for both matchups before a jam-packed Monday. He spoke to THE DAILY about his holiday plans, how he spends his time during home games and his focus on giving back to his community. 

THE GOOD STUFF: Ahead of our game against the Jazz, on early Friday afternoon I’ll meet with the new Superintendent of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District to discuss our partnership around education. Then ahead of Saturday’s game, I’ll participate in a panel discussion -- the “MLK: 3D Leaders Panel" -- which we’ll host in the early afternoon with students from six local high schools in under-served neighborhoods in Charlotte. That’ll be a lot of fun to get in front of those high school kids and tell them how we got to where we are in our career and how important education is. 

HERE COMES THE THUNDER: Saturday is one of the nights this season where we’ll wear our Classic Edition uniforms, the teal pinstripe look from the original Hornets. I was a season-ticket holder with the old Hornets, so I remember them well. Our fans have been clamoring to get that back just as much as they did for the name itself. We’re expecting a complete sellout what with RUSSELL WESTBROOK, PAUL GEORGE and CARMELO ANTHONY coming in. Right before the game, I’ll do an interview with Fox Sports Southeast’s STEPHANIE READY and MATT CARROLL to discuss some of the initiatives we have on the horizon. Sunday will be a family day for me, and I’ll be locked in on all the NFL playoff games. I’m a Panthers man through-and-through. Have been since Day 1, so really don’t have any favorites. Just love watching come playoff time. 

JERSEY IN THE RAFTERS: Monday is a special day for me for several reasons. Obviously, there’s the MLK holiday, which I start every year by attending the McCrorey YMCA prayer breakfast at the Charlotte Convention Center. I haven’t missed one in my 12 seasons here. So I’ll start the morning early with that, then I’ll watch our 12:30pm game against the Pistons on TV. After that, I’ll drive to my hometown of Greensboro and go back to see my high school retire my basketball jersey that evening. Looking forward to getting back to Southeast Guilford High School for their game and the halftime unveiling. It’ll be emotional because I’ve been out of high school for 40 years, and it’ll be great to see my old teammates, who all have committed to come back. With it being a neighborhood school that I was bused to every day, it’ll be awesome to get to spend the evening there. 

ALL ABOUT THE FANS: I’ve been here 12 seasons and I’ve never actually sat and watched the game. I prefer to stand in our team tunnel, which leads back to our locker room and our two premium clubs. It allows me not only to watch the game, but also interact with our customers. I try to look at it as if I’m hosting a party at my home. The last thing I want to do is go find a comfortable chair and sit down. I make it a point every night to welcome them during pregame -- say hello and let’s have a great night. I also spend a considerable amount of time in the second half of games visiting suites and connecting with our customers there. 

OFF THE COURT: Ilios Noche and Art’s BBQ & Deli are a couple of my family’s favorite restaurants around Charlotte. As far as TV goes, I’m a lawyer by trade and one of my personal favorites is "LAW & ORDER," which we watch a ton of around our house, along with "THE FIRST 48."

Know of someone you’d like to see featured in Weekend Plans? Shoot an email to tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com.