Subject: The New Orleans Hornets May Not Come Back. Question: Does Anyone Care?
I have pretty much been "displaced" from my New Orleans/South Louisiana home, but it was well before KTMB. My job and experience dictate that I spend most of my time in other parts of the country. I am only back "home" during summers and holidays. Since I am away for most of the time, most of my accounts about city occurrences (outside of local media websites) come from the national media. It has already been discussed ad nauseum that the national media images of post-KTMB New Orleans are distorted. But based on what I read in both local and national media, and based on things like how often stories get covered and where they are placed when they do get covered, I have come to one interesting conclusion:
Nobody really gives a damn what happens to the New Orleans Hornets. Not in the NBA. Not across the country. Not even in New Orleans.
I'm not really angry about it, and I can't say I'm surprised. I just wanted to point it out.
It seems interesting that the New Orleans Arena is going to be ready for the end-of-the-season games. But then George Shinn says that that the team should stay in Oklahoma City because "the city isn't ready yet." I suppose he's saying that the city can't support 41 home games economically, which could be true.
But if Tom Benson said the same thing...........................
We're ready to fight to the death to keep our beloved Saints in New Orleans. We'll even apparently support the Saints if Benson is still the owner. But it seems pretty transparent that Shinn is putting his plan in motion to keep the Hornets permanently in Oklahoma City. And most people could apparently care less.
The national media, which largely had the city's back during the Saints battle, doesn't really care either. You hear a lot of statements like, "The city wasn't supporting the team anyway," "The games in Oklahoma are selling out," "The players want to be there anyway," and so on. They're ignoring facts like Hornets tickets being sold at much cheaper prices to ensure big crowds. The NBA has given a lot of verbal support to the city, but has yet to come up with a plan to keep the team here (like the NFL did). And we just shrug our shoulders.
The Hornets are a young, exciting team to watch. It has the probable Rookie of the Year in Chris Paul, and J.R. Smith and David West are turing into good young players. The team has a solid young nucleus and is a year or two away from being a playoff team. And yet we'd rather support a team that will be a joke and won't do anything to turn itself into a serious contender as long as the Benson Family is in charge.
It comes down to a couple of things I guess.
It's interesting because I remember how angry many people were, even in the 90s, about losing the Jazz. Even Marc Morial, when he was in office, "demanded" that the NBA move back during the T-Wolves fiasco. As a city, New Orleans fought so hard to get a team here. And then when the team got here, it didn't know what to do with it, and it had no idea what it meant to support a 21st centruy NBA franchise. I guess people were still thinking in the 70s, in the pre David Stern NBA, when all you needed was Pete Maravich and affordable tickets to make money. Now, you need over $100 a night to sit in the lower levels, and the city and residents didn't have the business support and economic means to pull it off. And the City Council was more worried about deciding which district got the Training Facility than it was about actually building it. So when the team was dismantled last year, the whole franchise fell off the radar. I'd like to see the team stay. But when it comes down to it, I'd probably watch about 5 games on television if they stayed, and I'd go to even fewer games than that.
So maybe it has something to do with that. I don't know. Or maybe it's as simple to say that New Orleans is now a football town. Period.