As I write this I am wearing a New Orleans Hornets cap, which is about the only sign I see of the team as the lockout continues. Since there is nothing to discuss about the game in terms of plays and players, a few thoughts about the labor situation:
WHO SHOULD WE PULL FOR THE – OWNERS OR THE PLAYERS?
From a purely partisan, pro-New Orleans perspective (and in matters of sports all my sentiments are purely partisan, pro-New Orleans), we should pull for the owners. The key issue is revenue sharing. The better deal that the owners get, the more attractive it will be for a new owner to step in, one committed to keeping the team here. (We’ve heard that there are several people willing to put their money up.) If the owners do not win on this issue then the NBA is going to become purely a big-market league and the smaller markets are going to have less of a chance to compete and to survive.
I know pulling for rich capitalists goes against the grain of many people, but the players are hardly a downtrodden workforce. If you feel bad about pulling for owners, send a contribution to Mother Theresa's charity, but in the name of all those whose livelihood depends on the team – rah-rah owners.
CAN THE FRANCHISE SURVIVE IN NEW ORLEANS?
Yes – if the right things happen. NBA boss David Stren has even said that with the sponsorships, ticket sales, state support and advanced ticket sales that the Hornets have received, the franchise actually might be one of the more financially stable teams in the league. Winning counts over the long run, though, and that’s why revenue sharing is so important. If the team can be competitive it can survive. (Look at the NFL, which does have balanced revenue sharing plans. The last two teams to win Superbowls, the Packers and the Saints, were from the league’s smallest markets.)
ISN’T NEW ORLEANS REALLY A FOOTBALL TOWN?
Well, yes but every city is a football town during football season—either for their pro or college teams. Come January, though, arena action is inviting—and one thing that we are not is a hockey town.
HOW IMPORANT IS THE FRANCHISE TO THE CITY?
From the beginning it was always prestigious – yet another sign of being a big-league town – but not essential. Now, because of the way that the area around the arena has developed with restaurants, the Hyatt, and Championship Square, that neighborhood has become hip and happening. For it to stay that way there needs to be events. Football only fills a few dates. The NBA, with its 44-game home schedule (not counting playoffs), can bring people downtown who now have places in the area where they can spend money before and after the games.
WHO IS THE HORNETS’ MOST VALUABLE PLAYER?
At this stage I am pulling for Hugo.