DeShazier - Double-talk singles out New Orleans as second-class
Since this wasn't published online, I'm posting the text of the article.
He has a very valid point.
John DeShazier - Times Picayune
It's almost as if there's a move afoot to ensure there won't be a sellout crowd, or three sellout crowds, to greet the Hornets six days from now, when they return to New Orleans Arena to play the Lakers, and for their next two dates in New Orleans, against the Nuggets and Clippers later in the month.
It almost feels like there's a deliberate attempt to torpedo the homecoming, sink it before it even has a chance to float.
That, or the organization has become so blinded by the greener grass it believes it's grazing on in Oklahoma City, it can't see or appreciate how colossally it seems to be mishandling its return to its home city.
It's major that Hornets fans here have complained long and loud that they haven't been able to get their hands on tickets, even though the franchise insists plenty have been available. Major, too, that the team has found the need to publish a number in order to, hopefully, accommodate the New Orleans fans who are determined to be seen and heard in their support.
It's 10 times more serious that a couple of season-ticket holders from New Orleans allege they heard team owner George Shinn say, during All-Star weekend, that he has his accountants looking into where is the best place business-wise for the franchise to be, that listeners in attendance at the party only could guess where he wants to be — the inference being OKC and that, in 10 years, he hopes the All-Star Game will be played in OKC with the Hornets as hosts.
Are we to believe that Shinn speaks from both sides of his mouth, reaffirming a commitment to New Orleans from one side while courting OKC from the other? Or do we go to the mat with Hal Braden and Cory Morton, Hornets fans who seem to have absolutely no reason to lie about what they believe they heard?
Do we award the benefit of the doubt to Shinn, who didn't exactly link arms with the state's lease negotiators and wrap himself in the Louisiana flag when the subject of the team honoring its Arena lease was broached after Hurricane Katrina? Or do we hand it to Braden and Morton, who might've been inclined to concoct larger, more damaging tales than the conversation they went public to relay if their purpose was to generate hard feelings toward Shinn?
Honestly, it doesn't much matter who we're inclined to believe. What does matter, right now, is the damage that's being done to New Orleans' efforts to show the sporting world that it's alive, if not all well.
The All-Star flap only is the latest public bomb that's been lobbed by the Hornets, Coach Byron Scott's stated preference to play in OKC next season being the first, preceding fans' continued assertions that they haven't been able to get tickets.
And all of them add up to this: It'll be a miracle - and an adjective-defying tribute to Hornets fans in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast - if one or all of the Hornets' Arena dates are played in front of a sellout crowd.
No matter how dedicated, even diehard fans only are willing to endure so many slights, real or imagined, before they toss up their hands in exasperation. In New Orleans, where many have been inconvenienced and slighted and overlooked to their breaking points, and cursing has become part of everyday conversation, the likelihood of expletives spewing along with the hands tossing is highly probable.
It's logical to assume that the longer people are made to feel second-class, the more likely it's going to have an impact. And the only impact they can have in this case is at the gate.
You hope that isn't the result the franchise is courting, but you'd have a hard time proving it in light of all that's been seen and heard the past few months.