UPDATE 4:30 pm: Break out the beads, David Stern has made it official — the 2014 NBA All-Star Game will be in New Orleans.
“There is no better place to celebrate and showcase the NBA than in New Orleans, a city with a rich tradition of hosting major events that is second-to-none,” Stern said. “Our 2008 NBA All-Star festivities proved a terrific experience for everyone involved, and we anticipate 2014 will be even better.”
12:45 pm: Are you ready for some gumbo and hoops?
David Stern, new Hornets owner Tom Benson and a bunch of NBA brass are in New Orleans Monday to announce that the city will host the 2014 NBA All-Star Game. The Times-Picayune was the first to confirm the long-standing rumor.
Getting an All-Star game in the city was part of the lease renegotiations between the league and the state of Louisiana, which owns the New Orleans Arena. It is that new lease — which includes building upgrades and renovations — that cleared the way for the sale of the team to Tom Benson. The deal was the NBA had a decade to put an All-Star Game back in the city, but it was expected to be sooner rather than later.
New Orleans hosted the 2008 All-Star Game, the first major sporting event in the city following hurricane Katrina. The 2013 All-Star Game is in Houston. It is expected the 2015 All-Star Game will be in New York, although both the Nets with the new Barclay Center and the Knicks with a renovated Madison Square Garden want to host.
“Hornets” is not a name that fits with New Orleans.
It was a leftover from when George Shinn moved his team from Charlotte — a city nicknamed “the hornets’ nest” — but “Hornets” goes together with the spirit of New Orleans about as much as tacos go with gumbo.
New Hornets owner Tom Benson is a New Orleans native who gets the city. And you can put him on the list of people who wants a new name for the team. Tomorrow. Which is all that matters. Here is what Benson told the Times-Picayune:
“We need to find a name like (Jazz),” Benson said, referring to New Orleans first NBA team that relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. “Whether we can get that or let us use that, you’ve got to know we’re working on it. We’d like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we’re not letting up on it, either. Because we’ve got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we’re going to be on them daily to do something.”
At this point, Jazz is not going to happen, even though that name fits in Utah about as well as a crawfish boil. Look, Lakers fits a whole lot better in Minnesota than it does Los Angeles but they’re not giving it up either.
But there are a host of other potential names that can work and you can bet in a couple years Benson will have the Hornets called something appropriate.
And you know, that black and gold color scheme of the saints would look cool on an NBA uniform. Just sayin’.
Despite the fact he is coming off knee surgery, and that along with recent back spasms have limited him to playing in just five games this season, Eric Gordon promises to be very popular this summer.
He will be a restricted free agent. And he is considered one of the (if not THE) best up and coming two guards in the league. A lot of teams will have interest, reports Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated.
Sources close to the situation said Indiana, Phoenix, Portland and Dallas are among the teams with interest in Gordon.
But the Hornets can match any offer. And it’s hard to imagine the new ownership group — whoever it ends up being — would not match any offer for an up-and-coming star they can market in the community.
And for his part, Gordon tells Amick he really likes it there.
“The first thing I’d say is that we have a very underrated coach,” Gordon said by phone on Tuesday. “He’s one of the best coaches out there, and we’re definitely an underrated team. I know our record [16-42] doesn’t speak for itself, but I’ve been out more than half the season. The Hornets really do have good fans, too. I really can’t say too many negatives about it.
“Overall, it’s better than what people probably would think if they hadn’t lived here. It’s been enjoyable.”
Glad he likes it, because he is going to be there a while.
The Charlotte Hornets was a fitting name — in 1775, just prior to the American Revolution, Lord Cornwallis referred to Charlotte as “a hornet’s nest of rebellion” and the people of that city have worn that rebellious badge proudly ever since.
The New Orleans Hornets… that name is just the leftover a team moved there then run into the ground by the previous owner.
With a deal coming soon for new owner there may a new name coming, too, reports Ian Thompson at Sports Illustrated (in a great look at the state of the Hornets franchise right now, with a hat tip to IamaGM.com).
The most interesting decision of the new owner may be whether to rebrand the franchise. Will the “Hornets” nickname be relinquished and enabled to return to Charlotte, where owner Michael Jordan could rebrand his own underperforming franchise?
If so, how would the basketball team of New Orleans rename itself? No suggestions will be made here, for the new name would have to represent the resilient spirit of New Orleans and its fans. It would be the finishing act of a franchise that has been reinvented, a team committed to the city that wouldn’t let go.
Jordan may or may not want the Hornets name back — a lot of people in Charlotte do not like Bobcats, as they thought previous owner Robert Johnson was naming the team after himself — but it makes sense to me for New Orleans to get a fresh start. Under the new lease deal they are committed to the city until 2024 at least, so they need to have something that works with the community.
This is not an easy market for the NBA — New Orleans was a small market and that was before hurricane Katrina, when many who moved away did not return. But go read the story, the city is backing the team and it is a franchise poised to make a big move if they can keep Eric Gordon and have a little lottery luck.
What happens in New York this week has a lot more to do with the long-term viability of the Hornets in New Orleans than anything else. Revenue sharing among owners and how the new salary system works — and if it means the Hornets really can keep Chris Paul — are at the heart of New Orleans ability to survive in its market.
But while those issues, more and more people are lining up to buy the team — and it’s not going anywhere.
That’s what league-appointed team president Jac Sperling told the Times-Picayune.
Actually, we’ve started having conversations with potential owners already. The number of potential owners has grown. I think the commissioner (David Stern) mentioned there were four or five, and I think the number has increased a little bit. There are some potential owners who live in New Orleans and some who live outside of New Orleans. But all of them understand that they would be buying a team that would have a long-term lease here. And that’s the goal — to extend the lease to a long-term arrangement with the state as part of finding a new owner.
The league is still negotiating a lease extension at a better rent, something else the new owner will inherit.
We could have a discussion about whether what the NBA needs to do is move out of struggling markets to stronger ones. Frankly, the owners should be having that conversation. But for now, Hornets fans don’t need to worry about their team moving for a while.