Hometown Heroes

I'm really proud of two of my old high school classmates who still live in New Orleans, Cory Morton and Hal Braden. Not only did they get in Sports Illustrated recently--they did so for a good cause.

Here's the story: These guys are big basketball fans, and have season's tickets to see the New Orleans Hornets play. Only, lately the Hornets haven't been playing in New Orleans because of Katrina. Instead, the team has been playing in Oklahoma City.

So, my two buddies, presumably because they're season tickets holders (and big movers and shakers to boot), got to attend a private cocktail party in Houston for the Hornets. In a speech delivered at that event, they claim, Hornets owner George Shinn basically hinted that he was ready to abandon New Orleans and move the Hornets to Oklahoma City. More specifically, according to Morton and Braden, Shinn even went so far as to state his hope that the Hornets would host an All Star Game in Oklahoma City ten years down the road.

In short, Shinn seems to have been hinting at a plan to abandon New Orleans--which would amont to kicking the city when it's down. So Morton and Braden blew the whistle on his little speech. Their account got printed in the New Orleans Times Picayune and picked up by Sports Illustrated, and even the NBA commissioner himself had to respond.

I'm getting a particular thrill out of this story, because ever since I attended a New Orleans Hornets game pre-Katrina--only to learn that the Hornets are the only team in the NBA to start each basketball game with a prayer--I haven't thought much of this guy Shinn. The prayer is, apparently, one of Shinn's little pet additions to NBA basketball. He fancies himself a very religious man.

Here's an idea: Maybe we should send Shinn to Oklahoma City, and keep the Hornets right where they are.

P.S.: A while back Sean Caroll calculated the effectiveness of prayer for the New Orleans Hornets, at that time the losingest (if that's a word) team in the NBA....

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