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NBA - Welcome to the NBA, New Orleans

By Brian Ault
Sunday, March 24th, 2002

A subject in the NBA that has lost some steam over the past five months has been the planned move of the Charlotte Hornets to New Orleans starting next year. On Wednesday, it started to pick up some steam once more as NBA Commissioner Dave Stern and a group of owners converged on the Cajun city to check out its facilities and to consider approving the move.

Stern says that there are still some hurdles the city has to go through until it becomes official. I don't think this is a good deal for the Hornets if this goes down as planned. It looks good on paper. Great city, great people, fantastic tourist vein, and so on. But still, something doesn't set right with this move.

Maybe it's the fact that history tells a grim picture of New Orleans and professional basketball. By now, everybody's heard about New Orleans first team, the now Utah Jazz, back in the '70s. They had good teams highlighted by Hall of Famer Pete Marivich. But bad fan support and inner plans from management to send the team to Salt Lake City killed any chance of the New Orleans Jazz surviving in the city. Sure, the city claims now that the support will come. But who knows what could happen?

The arena supposedly looks good. According to reports, it was built ten years ago to accommodate the NBA. The city already has pushed 8,000+ season tickets and is looking to fill some of the lower levels. The only reason these numbers are so high is the energy in the city about the comeback of basketball. About the old spirits of games and teams past coming back again. Hell, I'd be happy, too, looking at the talented Hornet team coming there.

They are very very close to being a grade A team. Baron Davis is already an unbelievable superstar and will only get more exposure and become a household name around the league. But what about a few years down the road? Will the team keep the same fire, PR-wise? Or will they fade like the Raptors have done this season? Only time, and the next coming season, will tell.

For now, to everyone reading from New Orleans or in Louisiana, for that matter, time to buy out those last remaining Hornets season tickets. Buy any of the new merchandise coming in. And get ready for what should be an interesting '02-'03 season to watch down in the land of hot foods and overflowing booze.

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