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Determined Fan Aims To Set Foundation For Bringing An NBA D-League Team to Asheville

A determined fan is making the push to bring an NBA D-League team to Asheville, and is hoping to get the attention of Michael Jordan to form an affiliation with the Charlotte Hornets.

Streeter Lecka

Getting the attention of the most legendary sports icon of all-time probably isn't the easiest thing to do.

But that's exactly what Dennis Justice, a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, is hoping to accomplish.

This coming season, the NBA D-League stands to have eighteen teams, seventeen of which will be entered into some sort of exclusive single affiliation with NBA teams. The remaining squad (the defending champion Fort Wayne Mad Ants) will likely end up hosting the rest in some way, shape, or form.

With the Mad Ants poised to host well more than ten NBA affiliates, things will likely get a little crowded in Fort Wayne. Relationships will assumedly be difficult to balance, and the remaining teams in The Association (that are currently not entered into some sort of single affiliation) are likely to get a little antsy as the season goes on. Individual (team) needs will need to meet and different things will need to be explored.

As the recent trend suggests, the sport appears closer and closer to a full one-to-one affiliation for each and every NBA team as time progresses. How much time that happens to take, however, still remains to be seen.

That said, one place to start exploring as a potential next home for a D-League team is Asheville, Justice says. He's making the push for a single affiliate to be paired up with the Charlotte Hornets, and hopes that Michael Jordan happens to eventually share his vision.

But in the meantime, he's more than willing to support his argument/suggestion with facts, numbers, and pure optimism for the future.

"I would love for the Hornets to announce they are pushing for a team and [then] pick Asheville for 2015. But I am realistic," he said in a statement to "If it would be better for the Hornets to pick Asheville now but wait until 2016 to start play, to nudge other southern NBA teams to put a D-League team in the southeast, then that would be great, too."

Though the D-League initially started in the southeast, President Dan Reed asserted just this past season that returning in the near future as the league continues to grow is not an immediate priority.

Still, there's hope for Justice's movement. He currently has an ever-growing Twitter account (fittingly named @BEElieveInAVL) and has even gained the the support of local leaders while making strong presentations in front of local community groups.

Justice is well on his way to, at the very least, raising some awareness. His argument that Asheville is the ideal place for the D-League to continue growing is also centered around the fact that, contrary to popular belief, the city is actually among the top minor league markets in the country.

As an up and coming playoff contender with a still relatively young team, there's no doubt the Hornets would benefit from utilizing its own D-League affiliate. According to Justice, the Asheville market is hungry for competition and would bask in welcoming such a minor league team to town.

How soon (or whether or not) that happens is anyone's guess, but it's pleasantly surprising, nonetheless, to see such a determined fan making the push for such a movement.