Pro Basketball Player,Alex Kirk,Helps Zia CU Unveil Refinished Court At Ranchitos Park
By Robert A. Naranjo
Ranchitos – Alex Kirk, a former Los Alamos Hilltopper, who starred for the UNM Lobos and played with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his pro basketball rookie season, followed by a season with the New York Knicks, then back to the Cavaliers, and is currently with the “Pistoia Basket 2000” / Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia, an Italian “Serie A” professional basketball league, was at Ranchitos Park, June 11, for Zia Credit Union’s unveiling ceremony of the newly refinished baskeball court. Zia Credit Union adopted the park in 2015.
The seven-foot tall Kirk, was naturally, right at home on the park court playing a variety of fundamental shooting and dribbling basketball drills and games with the local youth, complete with a five-against-one pick-up game! (See photo.)
The Valley’s youth at the event were the big winners. They participated in a mini basketball camp with a pro basketball player, all got Alex Kirk autographed basketballs, or a number of items supplied by Zia Credit Union and a newly refinished basketball court.
Baked goods were donated by Dino Martinez and family at the Lovin’ Oven. The credit union donated the refreshments consisting of bottled water and juice.
From all accounts, Kirk is the first pro basketball player to dunk on the Ranchitos court’s goal! The 7-footer took a dish (pass) from a driving 7 year-old with a “basketball jones” (love of basketball) for the dunk.
The CEO of Zia, David Woodruff, thanked the staff for all their volunteer work on the park and singled out Annitte Lujan, Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, and crediting her as the main reason for the credit union’s adoption of the park. Woodruff said they were happy to help the youth of the area. And added that the Valley is famous for its love of basketball, “even more so than Los Alamos.”
“The children’s playground is next,” Lujan told this reporter when asked what’s planned for Ranchitos park in the near future.
Mayor Alice Lucero thanked Zia Credit Union for all the improvements and the clean up campaign at Ranchitos Park, “It’s beautiful,” she said of the newly refinished courts. She said that the city is grateful for everything that Zia Credit Union has done to the park which is used by the youth and a good number of citizens in the city. She added that she believed that the park dated to the 1970’s and “had never been refinished.” She introduced Mayor Pro Tem, Adrianna Ortiz, who also thanked the credit union for their adoption of the park which is in her council district and said that benefits the children of the area most of all.
Both were pleased to see the participation of Alex Kirk in the unveiling event.
Alex Kirk said he was happy to be part of the event at the park’s basketball court. He added that the Alex Kirk Basketball Camp is coming up and encouraged people to get their children registered to participate. There were fliers at the event and they are posted all over town.
Kirk added that no one will be turned away, even if slightly older the registration form indicates. “We’ll work them in somehow,” he said if slightly older youth register or show up.
Alex Kirk’s father, current Los Alamos Municipal Court judge, Alan Kirk, a former coach and Chief-of-Police for Los Alamos, told this reporter that many times, “the bigger cities get more than their share” of appearances by professional athletes when they visit the state. “These 30 kids right here,” motioning to the youth on the court, “get more out of it than a big crowd of kids would where it’s hard to experience the one-to-one.”
Both Kirks said that it’s “all about giving back to the community,” and specifically, the youth.
Alex Kirk, did a live on-air 10 minute interview with “Tomas-No-Mas” Garcia of KDCE/KYBR radio during a live remote at the park. Zia Credit Union’s CEO Woodruff thanked KDCE radio and said that “KDCE’s presence makes it an event.”
Alex Kirk’s father, Alan, said that his son, “has always made friends” where ever he is at. “In high school, he’d be talking to the opposing team players before or after a game. I’d ask him: Don’t you think you should be with your own team?” His son, Alex Kirk, would reply, “I see them everyday.”
Judge Alan Kirk said he always wanted to make “an ambassador” out of his son. Asked if he meant in the usual sense of the word, the former police chief, basketball coach, and current Los Alamos municipal judge, said “not necessarily,” but he meant more like what Alex was doing at Ranchitos Park that day. Making new friends, this time with the Valley’s youth.