SAN DIEGO — Famed hardwood courts from Madison Square Garden to the United Center and the Staples Center may be empty so far this season due to the National Basketball Association (NBA) players' strike but college basketball jumped off to a great start Friday, Nov. 11 on Veteran's Day with #1-ranked University of North Carolina Tar Heels winning its first game of the season against the Michigan State Spartans in the first ever Quicken Loans Carrier Classic — on the deck of the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.
The USS Carl Vinson, which buried 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden at sea last May, underwent a complete overhaul (see the above video) over the last nine days as its flight deck was transformed into a basketball arena complete with a hardwood court made of maple, plywood and pine, as well as seating for approximately 7,000 spectators. The hardwood court was provided and installed by McWil Sport Surfaces; the company has also provided flooring for the NCAA's Final Four.
President Barack Obama was in attendance along with basketball greats Earvin "Magic" Johnson, who attended Michigan State University and James Worthy who attended the University of North Carolina. Johnson and Worthy will act as honorary team captains.
ESPN carried the event live at 4 p.m. Pacific time. A duplicate hardwood basketball court and bleacher seating for approximately 2,000 had been erected in the ship's hanger bay in case of inclement weather.
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