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OPIINION | EDITORIAL: King Cotton return enlivens Pine Bluff

December 20, 2021 at 2:27 a.m.

Aseries of stories in The Commercial about the King Cotton Holiday Classic basketball tournament is good for reinvigorating anyone's latent basketball jones.

The tournament started way back in 1982 and ran out of gas in 1999. After an almost two-decade hiatus, the tournament came back to life, with the help of Go Forward Pine Bluff as well as corporate and other donors, and returned to the court in 2018.

After a cancellation last year due to covid, the tournament is back later this month for the 2021 event that runs three days, from Dec. 27-29.

The teams are from all over, with some local, some from within the state and some star-studded teams from elsewhere.

One of Go Forward Pine Bluff's goals is to put the city on the map in a positive way. And this is a dandy opportunity to do that. The old King Cotton was pulled up out of the ground by Travis Creed. And it became a premier national event that got the attention of college coaches all over because many of the players who made their way to the Pine Bluff Convention Center would go on to play college ball and even professional basketball.

Can you imagine being a high-schooler and headed to a Christmas tournament? What excitement and fun, both then and now. One player, who wasn't even born before the original King Cotton folded up, said he was excited to be coming to Pine Bluff with his North Little Rock team.

"Playing in front of my friends and family, it's cool especially playing with a big-time tournament like King Cotton bringing it back," said Nick Smith Jr., a senior for the Wildcats. "It's going to be a pretty big thing."

Yes, it is.

Part of the thrill of playing a sport is feeling the excitement of the moment and hearing the roar of the crowd. That takes fans in the stands, and that means ticket sales. Lucky for you, tickets are not expensive. A one-day pass is $15 and for all three days, it's just $30.

We think this is a good way to do a lot of good. By attending, you're showing support for your city, the efforts of Go Forward and the young people, some of whom have traveled from far away, who only wish to be welcomed and encouraged as they play their best for you -- and win.

Yes, the omicron version of the coronavirus is looming, but you should have been vaccinated and received a booster by now, there should be plenty of room to social distance, and you, of course, have your mask. The only thing left to do is enjoy some really good basketball!

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