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Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets players remember late writer Rick Bonnell

Jan 19, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; A detail view of the center court logo for Classic Night game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Phoenix Suns at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; A detail view of the center court logo for Classic Night game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Phoenix Suns at Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan was among those who paid tribute to late sportswriter Rick Bonnell, who died unexpectedly at age 63 after spending more than three decades covering the NBA for the Charlotte Observer.

A family friend found Bonnell dead at his home Tuesday night after his son was not able to reach him.

Tributes quickly poured in for Bonnell, who covered the Hornets since their inaugural season in 1988-89.

“I’m very sad to learn about Rick’s passing,” Jordan said in a statement Wednesday. “Rick was a staple at Hornets games, dating back to my playing days at the old Charlotte Coliseum. …

“He prided himself on being fair and honest in his reporting, and I truly respected that about him. Rick became the source for Hornets news in Charlotte, which speaks to his talent and professionalism. The Hornets’ family will miss Rick’s friendly face at our games. I send my condolences to his family and friends.”

Other Hornets players shared their memories of Bonnell, who is believed to have died of natural causes.

“Rick was professional and diligent in covering the Hornets,” Marvin Williams said to the Observer. “But he became a friend as well.”

Terry Rozier told the newspaper about his first impression of Bonnell.

“On one of my first days in Charlotte, I sat down for an interview with Rick,” Rozier said. “What I expected to be like every other interview I’d done in my career was more of a conversation than a media obligation. Since that time, Rick has been engaging and fair in every interaction. … Next season in Charlotte won’t be the same without him.”

Bonnell wrote more than 11,000 stories during his time with the Observer.

“Over the course of my eight years in Charlotte,” Hornets center Cody Zeller told the paper, “I’ve seen him every time I’ve walked off the court from a shootaround, practice or game. I was always impressed with his passion for writing, reporting and his love for Charlotte Hornets basketball.”

Bonnell is survived by his son, Jack; daughter, Claire; and two sisters, Deborah Cummings and Diane Tammaro.

–Field Level Media