The Hornets announced its plans to honor late beat reporter Rick Bonnell's legacy with an annual journalism scholarship, team award and renaming the media entrance.
Bonnell covered the Hornets for the Charlotte Observer from the team's inaugural season in 1988 through the 2020-21 season, and died on June 1 at the age of 63.
The Hornets will pay tribute to the late sportswriter with a video and moment of silence prior to its home season-opener against the Pacers on Wednesday, October 20.
The Rick Bonnell Memorial Scholarship will award a journalism student enrolled at a North Carolina college or university $10,000 annually. The application is open and will be accepted until November 30. The panel, who will choose the winner, will consist of Hornets staff members, former Charlotte Observer employees and Bonnell’s children, Jack and Claire.
Beginning with the 2021-22 season, the Rick Bonnell Award is being introduced in the franchise. It'll be given to a Charlotte player who "best represents himself and the franchise with professionalism and cooperation with regards to his interactions with the media."
Additionally, the Hornets will rename the media and employee entrance as the Rick Bonnell Media & Employee Entrance, which will feature photos of the late sportswriter's career on the event level.
As highlighted by the franchise in the press release, Bonnell remained dedicated to his readers and journalism and had a passion for mentoring young reporters throughout his career. He had more than 11,000 bylines in the paper, and as Scott Fowler of the Observer wrote, "Bonnell didn’t just have institutional knowledge. He was an institution."
The Hornets released multiple statements when Bonnell died, including from center Cody Zeller, guard Terry Rozier and former Charlotte forward Marvin Williams.
“I’m very sad to learn about Rick’s passing. Rick was a staple at Hornets games, dating back to my playing days at the old Charlotte Coliseum," Hornets chairman Michael Jordan said at the time. "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.”