Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I went to my first NBA regular season game last night to see the Hornets take on the Detroit Pistons. The attendance was 19,260, another home sellout for the New Orleans/OKC Hornets.

There has been a lot of talk among the national media that the city of Oklahoma City stole the Hornets from the hurricane ravaged Big Easy. The truth is that OKC saved the Hornets. The team had to go somewhere and OKC provided a home that would love and embrace them as if they were their very own.

The problem is that the Hornets have become Oklahoma City’s very own. The city has embraced the team and the team has embraced the city. Last season in New Orleans the Hornets ranked dead last in attendance, this season in OKC the Hornets rank 7th, averaging 18, 738 per game.

The Hornets walked off the floor tonight to standing ovations after losing 96-86 to the best team in the NBA. It’s that home crowd support and college type atmosphere that OKC provides that prompted head coach Byron Scott to lead the charge to get games moved out of Baton Rouge, which was part of the original deal.

Oklahoma City will pick up a couple of additional games and so will the City of New Orleans. Players and ownership will be able to compare what they had to what they now have in Oklahoma City.

There will be several tough decisions to make in the near future regarding the Hornets. With all due respects to the city and people of New Orleans here are two facts that cannot be ignored.

Fact one, the NBA has been good for OKC and OKC has been good for the NBA. The team itself has expressed their desire for a long term relationship and several visiting players and coaches have described how incredible the atmosphere is. League Commissioner David Stern visited OKC for a game and afterwards said that the city was first on the list if a team were to relocate.

Fact two, the city of New Orleans was not supporting the Hornets before Hurricane Katrina. With the rebuilding and relocating efforts to continue over the next few years there is no way the city could support them now.

It won’t be a personal attack against New Orleans when the Hornets decide to make Oklahoma City their permanent home and it won’t be an act of thievery by the Sooner state either. It’s just a simple matter of belonging and economics.