A new initiative aims to bring life back to public outdoor basketball courts in Northern Kentucky with a lot of paint and creativity.
More than a dozen courts across Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties have been considered for the project, which will make use of bold, graphic murals to “activate” the courts and bring kids and families back to them.
The first project was recently completed in Annie Hargraves Park in Covington on a court named after George Stone, a local star who made it to big leagues.
Stone passed away 26 years ago, but those who saw the Covington native play saw an athlete who played at a fast, intense pace and could score quickly.
So when artists from Covington agency BLDG Refuge designed the mural to cover the surface of the outdoor court named after Stone, they took into account his style of play and designed a bright display featuring six hues and bold designs.
"We wanted to feature the whole idea of George Stone the player," says Jarrod Becker, art director for BLDG Refuge.
The design firm is partnering with Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky on the mural project.
It’s an effort to build pride in the public courts, and encourage communities to use them, says Nancy Grayson, president of Horizon Community Funds.
The organization is providing financial support and hopes to make it the first of many such projects around Northern Kentucky.
"BLDG brought this idea to us a few months ago," Grayson says. "We lent our support because we strongly feel it would create a larger sense of pride and community across our region."
Center court at George Stone Court now features a replica of the red, white, and blue basketball used by the old American Basketball Association, where Stone made his mark in a league that was considered flashier and more freewheeling than the NBA.
Surrounding the ball are double-edged stars some 15 feet in length, symbolizing the league championship Stone won with the Utah Stars.
Stone grew up on West 10th Street near the park. He played for the former William Grant High School in Covington and later for Marshall University, where his 22.4 points per game average still ranks him as one of the school's top scorers.
He also played four years in the ABA, averaging 13.6 points per game and held the league's 10th best shooting percentage from the three-point line. He helped lead the Stars to the ABA title in 1971.
He died of a heart attack in 1993. Covington dedicated the court in September 2018.