Oct 31, 2007

The Hornets are back

The New Orleans Hornets (no longer carrying around that dreadful /Oklahoma City or NOOCH moniker), make their return to the Big Easy tonight as they kick off the NBA season against the Sacramento Kings.

New Orleans has had an up-and-down relationship with the team since they arrived from Charlotte. Never feeling like the home town team, the Hornets made the playoffs a few times before turning into a high lottery team prior to Hurricane Katrina. Going through three head coaches and getting rid of stars/fan favorites like Jamal Mashburn, Baron Davis, Jamaal Magloire, P.J. Brown, David Wesley, etc., hurt attendance and fan interest. Just when things were looking exciting with the drafting of Chris Paul, Katrina hit and the team was displaced to Oklahoma City. For the past two seasons, the team has been basically "out of sight, out of mind" to Louisianians.

Now the team is back. They have an exciting roster led by Paul and David West. Their major free agent signing from last year, Peja Stojakovic, is hopefully healthy enough to make it through a majority of the season. Center Tyson Chandler is coming on as a potential All-Star, and the rookie class of Julian Wright and Adam Haluska have shown promise in preseason. Add to that the signing of Morris Peterson and second year center Hilton Armstrong looking for a break-out season, the Hornets look like a team on the rise in the West.

New Orleans and the South are football first areas. The New Orleans Saints are having unprecedented success in ticket sales and team support, but there's no reason the Hornets can't feel the same love. This team will be exciting to watch and they will compete with the top stars in the NBA. The city needs to embrace this team as it has with the Saints. The Hornets are our team now. They are far removed from their Charlotte days and the flirting with Oklahoma City is in the past. Its time for Louisiana and the Gulf South to show that we are not the small, forgotten market that the national media sees us as. With the All-Star game coming to New Orleans this season and a full slate of Hornets games, fans can show that basketball can strive in the Big Easy.

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