For more than a decade, Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield has played a pivotal role in securing major events for the Spectrum Center and solidifying business deals that have made people take notice.
A former high school and college basketball standout, Whitfield used his game to earn a bachelor’s degree at Campbell University and a law degree at North Carolina Central University.
The Greensboro native has known Hornets’ chairman Michael Jordan since the early ‘80s — back when Jordan was still in high school. The two have worked together at Nike for Jordan Brand, the Washington Wizards and, since 2006, Charlotte’s NBA franchise.
Whitfield brokered a number of deals, but none may have been more important to the local economy than getting the 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend. When Charlotte lost the event as a result of the controversial House Bill 2, Whitfield worked with state and local government officials to repeal the bill.
He then turned his attention to bringing back the NBA’s signature weekend to Charlotte in 2019. The approximate economic impact for All-Star Weekend, $100 million.
Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s President and Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield speaking at a press conference for the 2019 NBA All-Star Weekend. Photo: Qcitymetro
However, Whitfield isn’t all business. He’s passionate about North Carolina’s youth.
For nearly 40 years, Whitfield’s Achievers Unlimited Basketball School has annually served about 250 youth. The campers leave the program having learned life and basketball fundamentals. For the past 17 years, his foundation, HoopTee Charities, has provided opportunities to hundreds of underserved children.
“We want to provide educational and athletic opportunities that will be life-changing for them,” Whitfield said.
In January, Whitfield announced seven charities in Charlotte and Greensboro that would receive a total of $110,00 from HoopTee:
- Black Child Development Institute, Greensboro – $20,000
- Bright Blessings, Charlotte – $20,000
- Classroom Central, Charlotte – $5,000
- Communities In Schools, Charlotte – $15,000
- Metro School, Charlotte – $20,000
- Right Moves for Youth, Charlotte – $20,000
- Southeast High School, Greensboro – $10,000
Grant recipients at the HoopTee Charities awards luncheon on Jan. 29, 2019. Photo credit: Jon Strayhorn
Whitfield said these organizations share in the mission of HoopTee and they’re “touching a lot of the same kids or ones we don’t know about.”
On Feb. 28, he’ll host his annual HoopTee Hardwood Legends Dinner fundraiser in New York City, and in July, his charity will hold its annual celebrity golf tournament in Charlotte.
Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.