Saturday, December 4, 2010

NBA-Owned New Orleans Hornets?

For those who haven't heard, the Big Easy's professional basketball club, the New Orleans Hornets are...well..."owner-less." I have to admit, it is kind of crazy to read a story like this one. Apparently , the National Basketball Association is actively looking into purchasing the club from current majority owner, George Shinn, until a permanent new owner can be found. I think ideally, the Association would like to secure not only an individual with applicable experience, but someone who is also willing to keep the team where it is. Club president, Hugh Weber, declined comment on the NBA's possible involvement in the purchase of the team, which was reported by ESPN on Friday night. NBA spokesman, Tim Frank, also declined comment.

George Shinn has been in lengthy negotiations to sell the team to minority owner and Louisiana native Gary Chouest since last spring, but talks have been stalled for months. I can imagine the NBA isn't pleased with the progression of the transaction. Chouest currently owns 35% of the Hornets, while he practices a daily balancing act, partially running a family business that supplies vessels to the gulf oil industry. Afraid majority ownership of the Hornets will divert some of his attention away from the family business, it is not clear if Chouest will retain his 35% if the NBA does indeed decide to buy the club.

Despite a close to league best 13-6 start, home game attendance has been lower than projected. Through 10 home games, average attendance has been 13,865. If it doesn't pick up, the Hornets could have the right to break their lease at the New Orleans Arena after this season. The lease runs through 2014, but the team is allowed to break it if average attendance falls below 14,735 during a two-year period.

The Hornets have been in New Orleans since Shinn, the club's founder, moved them from Charlotte in 2002.

Shinn, 69, was diagnosed last year with prostate cancer, which he said has been treated successfully. He decided after that experience that he wanted to move on from NBA ownership and instead focus on his faith and on efforts to fight cancer.

This could prove to be interesting. How will this affect the actually know the guys who go out and physically give their all...nigh-in and night-out? How will this change the schematics of other NBA teams and their ownership? How will the games officiating change? Interesting, indeed.

#BigUps for the LEAK.