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Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

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  • Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

    This article is right on

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playof...sam&id=1795000



    By Sam Smith
    Special to ESPN.com

    Look, this Game 7 between the New Orleans Hornets and Miami Heat in the series that time, the NBA and America forgot -- heck, we're almost halfway through the conference semifinals already in some places -- is just about who gets the opportunity to get the crap kicked out of them by the Indiana Pacers.


    Assuming the Pacers all come back from semester break without sunburns.


    Game 7's are exciting. But they're usually more exciting when one of the teams wins, say, 44 games during the regular season. What it mostly means in this series is that two mediocre teams, even though Miami has been a pleasant surprise this season with its strong finish, is looking for a chance to say, "Hey, if we were in the West we could even make the playoffs."


    Which takes us to the Hornets, who will be in the Western Conference next season and don't look like they'll be in the playoffs next spring. Which is also why this Game 7, though of not particular interest to most because neither team is expected to advance much beyond it, may be the most important game in these NBA playoffs.


    Because it'll not only determine the fate of the head coach, but the future of a team and perhaps an entire franchise.


    Win and the season is saved for the underachieving Hornets, who were a first-round playoff victim last season. The early exit cost coach Paul Silas his job after a 47-win season and set the stage for what screwball owner George Shinn predicted would be the best season in franchise history. Win and the season could be the Hornets' best ever, in a farcical way, since the franchise has never been beyond the second round and never played more than 10 postseason games in any season. A victory would guarantee at least 11 playoff games.



    A loss in Miami could cost Hornets coach Tim Floyd his job.
    But a loss? It could be the beginning of the end of the franchise in New Orleans.


    Sure, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik was in New Orleans the other day to assure the community that the NBA stands behind the franchise and he's optimistic about the future. I like Russ, but he'll need a nose job if he keeps this up any longer.


    This franchise could be on the move out of New Orleans before too long if the defeats on and off the court keep piling up.


    The Hornets' franchise has become one big embarrassment to the NBA. Not only would the league love to get Shinn out, but it has to be asking itself why it approved the team's relocation. Everyone knows why. Never has a community abhored ownership as the city of Charlotte did with Shinn. Owners aren't popular anywhere. They always spend too little and the players are our heroes.


    But Charlotte was too embarrassed by Shinn's antics, from his awful sexual assault trial (he was acquitted) to his demeaning attitude toward players and coaches (he once said coach Allan Bristow should be "flippin' hamburgers"). The community was quick to build a new arena for an NBA team, one that promises to be one of the worst ever in the expansion Bobcats, than build one for Shinn's team, which should have been pretty good.


    And Charlotte had been a heck of an NBA city, setting league attendance records almost every season until it turned on Shinn, who was run out of town like no owner ever has been in the NBA.


    So he got New Orleans to offer a sweetheart deal with an arena and all kinds of stuff, and rarely has a new team been greeted with such a long and loud yawn.


    During the 2002-2003 season, the Hornets' first in New Orleans, the average home attendance ranked 19th in the 29-team league at 15,650 for the regular season. This season, the Hornets fell to 28th with an average home attendance of 14,332. Rarely has a community cooled on a new team so quickly.


    And this was the season Shinn said would be the Hornets' best ever. And it should have been.


    The Hornets have arguably the best talent in the Eastern Conference.


    With center Jamaal Magloire making the All-Star team and performing well in the game, that gave the Hornets two of the conference's top players along with Baron Davis, the league's best player the first couple of months. They also had former All-Star Jamal Mashburn. He was injured and played just 19 games, but that was a quarter of the season with another All-Star. The champion Spurs were dying to get P.J. Brown, but he took the best offer to remain in New Orleans. One of the league's best sixth men, Darrell Armstrong, was added. George Lynch is one of the league's elite role players.


    This is a .500 team?


    Would this have been a .500 team with Larry Brown as coach? With Pat Riley? Rick Carlisle?


    Shinn is known to be notoriously cheap, so he went the cheapest route and hired former Bulls coach Tim Floyd, who didn't have quite that much leverage with the worst coaching record in league history.


    So Floyd got one of the lowest contracts in the league. The New Orleans theory was good ol' boy Floyd from Mississippi, who'd coached at the U. of New Orleans, would be an attraction. But as everyone knows no one comes to see anyone coach. They come to see the team win. Few were less qualified to help achieve that than Floyd.


    During the end of the regular season and throughout the playoffs, there has been behind-the-scenes talk that Floyd would be fired unless the Hornets won their first-round series. It was apparent that the Hornets weren't using the great advantage they have -- the inside strength of Magloire and Brown. They finally began to do so the last two games against the Heat, but where has that been all season? The reason: Floyd is so afraid of Davis, who is often seen stalking to the bench when taken out and glaring at Floyd, that he's allowed Davis to run an offense not suited to the team's talent. Davis couldn't get away with that if they had a respected, veteran coach. Armstrong even said during the playoffs that Floyd was still learning the team.


    But it's much bigger than who'll be the head coach.


    This is an old Hornets team. Forget that. This is a team that naps in the afternoon after watching "Matlock" reruns. Hubie Brown played with some of these guys. Half the roster and the bulk of the rotation players are 33 years old or older. They could be the parents of some of the players coming into the league now.


    In total playoff games experience, the Hornets had a 414-167 edge against the Heat before the series started. Experience is said to be important in playoff games, but only if you can run and jump. And this is a team that's clearly been ignored, if not dismissed, by the public.


    You had to love some of the excuses about why they weren't selling out any home playoff games, like there was an LSU spring football game in regional base Baton Rouge. I did not make that one up. Everyone knew basketball was going to be a hard sell in New Orleans. It's a convention city, and those people don't go to ballgames. Not when the French Quarter is open and all it takes is dropping a set of beads for someone to drop some of their garments. The Southeast is a tough sell for basketball anywhere -- ask them in Atlanta and Miami. It's football and auto racing country.


    For the Hornets, losing would be a disaster. It probably would mean the firing of Floyd ... It would mean the breakup of the team, the notion that so many aging players cannot play together.

    But it's been more than that. The community has rejected this Hornets team. Who knows exactly why: Too old, too indifferent, unexciting with no true stars? It's certainly hard to get behind the Hornets with the way they've played.


    This should have been a 50-plus win team this season. Shinn agreed. He expected the best season ever. Silas was fired, also in part, because 47 wins with that talent was not good enough. He also wanted more money than Floyd ever sought. And Shinn acknowledged the Hornets were moving West after this season to accommodate expansion Charlotte.


    The Hornets finished 11-17 against Western Conference teams this season and 4-12 against the playoff teams. This had to be the season. Which is why Tuesday is the biggest game in franchise history for the Hornets.


    It would be a nice win for an exciting little Miami team. But a loss won't hurt that much. The Heat wasn't supposed to make the playoffs after Pat Riley left the bench, let alone get a home-court edge and finish fourth in the East. The Heat returned some basketball excitement to the community and has a nice nucleus in place. Its season is a success.


    For the Hornets, losing would be a disaster.


    It probably would mean the firing of Floyd, that is, if Shinn could eat two years of a contract, something he rarely does. It would mean the breakup of the team, the notion that so many aging players cannot play together. It would also be necessary for marketing reasons. How do you sell these guys? Already, some of their top marketing and selling staff has taken off. The Hornets would be losers -- knocked out by a Miami team no one expected much.


    Attendance would plummet. You would soon hear how the franchise isn't viable there, and there are no shortage of cities -- Las Vegas among them -- ready to pounce on an NBA team.


    But win, and there's hope. They're one Jermaine O'Neal sprained ankle away from the conference finals. Put together a month of playoff games and who knows how the community reacts. There can't be spring football games every weekend. Get a month's worth of playoff games and who knows what happens. Coaches don't get fired when they're in the playoffs that long. Players become savvy instead of old. Money comes pouring in. Cities go looking elsewhere.


    It all comes down to one game, and none has been bigger for the Hornets.

  • #2
    Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

    I doubt that even without JO they could get to the Conference finals.

    = ed:
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    • #3
      Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

      I disagree with the statement The Hornets have arguably the best talent in the Eastern Conference.

      They have an excellent PG who isn't a great passer (Baron), a very good PF (Brown), a good C (Magliore) and a good bench sparkplug (Armstrong). I think Lynch and Wesley are average, and Augmon, Traylor, and West as guys 7 through 9 are OK, but not great (though I think West will be very good eventually).

      Id take the talent of the Pacers, Pistons, Nets for sure over theirs, and maybe the Heat if the Heat had a bit more size.
      The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!).

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      • #4
        Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

        I disagree with the statement The Hornets have arguably the best talent in the Eastern Conference.

        They have an excellent PG who isn't a great passer (Baron), a very good PF (Brown), a good C (Magliore) and a good bench sparkplug (Armstrong). I think Lynch and Wesley are average, and Augmon, Traylor, and West as guys 7 through 9 are OK, but not great (though I think West will be very good eventually).

        Id take the talent of the Pacers, Pistons, Nets for sure over theirs, and maybe the Heat if the Heat had a bit more size.

        You did not mention Mashburn

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        • #5
          Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

          Interesting read about the owner, but how many times does the guy gotta say "Tim Floyd will probably be fire if they lose this game". I figured that the first time he typed it. Seems like he REALLY wants people to think he is gonna be fired cause he said it over 3 times in the same article.

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          • #6
            Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

            You did not mention Mashburn
            When he's healthy, sure, but he missed pretty much the whole season. The few weeks he was there he was more of a disruption than a contributor. I think their talent level would be 4th behind the Pacers, Pistons, and Nets with Mashburn less than 100%.

            With Mashburn 100% I could put them above the Nets.

            I tend to think Mash is overrrated a little, as is Wesley and maybe even Magliore. I think PJ Brown is underrated, but that may be because I like the D he plays and he never seems to miss a shot against the Pacers. For some reason we always seem to give him the open 17-footers from the corners.
            The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!).

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

              George Shinn...
              All this couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

              Maybe the NBA will do a bit better research before they bring in another city. Maybe they can move to St. Louis and end that deal where the ABA 4 have to give the owners of the St. Louis Spirits money every season. If that deal is still on the books!
              ...Still "flying casual"
              @roaminggnome74

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              • #8
                Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                Maybe the NBA will do a bit better research before they bring in another city.
                If the Hornets fold, we all know where the next Western Conference team will spring up....

                VEGAS, baby! Best home-court advantage in basketball!

                Maybe we could get Barkley to come out of retirement!
                This space for rent.

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                • #9
                  Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                  I live in Charlotte and let me tell you, people here would love to see Shinn fail.

                  He was one of the most hated people in Charlotte by the time he left here. People refused to go to the games because of the way he and that other *** of an owner treated thier fans.

                  And most of the players were the same way. Probably because Shinn's attitude rubbed off on them a little. However I will say Silas was a class act the whole time in the city, and I think he still owns his house here last I heard. He was actually loved by most of the city.

                  When given the option to sell the team to a group of local charlotte business so that they could keep the team in Charlotte and build the new arena, Shinn refused. He claimed that all this team did was lose money for them, so nobody understood why they wouldn't sell. When the mayor was negotiating with them for the new arena, Shinn was just an *** to everyone in Charlotte, and never hid it from the media which made it that much worse to get the people in the city to approve the vote for the arena. He never wanted the arena here, hell he just wanted out of Charlotte and wanted to take the team with him out of spite. He and the mayor has some personal grudges that were very visable in the media here.

                  Within a week of the hornets officially leaving, the city was already offering a new arena to the NBA for a new team to be moved in here. And there was little to no resistance by the residents since Shinn was gone.

                  I can say I'm happy Charlotte got another team because it will give me the chance to see my beloved pacers play a couple times a year again

                  Did I want the hornets to win last night? NO. But I think they got what they deserved or at least what they had coming to them.

                  My parents live down near New Orleans now and, SURPRISE! the fans and city have already begun to hate the team and the owners there too! I won't be surprised if they try to move out of New Orleans. But I'm not so sure the NBA or the City is going to let that happen so easily. Doesn't the Hornets have a contract with the city for like 15 years?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                    When is the NBA going to dump the PATHETIC ownership behind the NO Hornets? They are actually talking about moving the team AGAIN?!!!

                    What bunch of flocking morons!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                      The Hornets aren't surviving in New Orleans? Why is anyone surprised?

                      The NBA should've moved the team to Louisville, KY when they had the chance. Louisville is a great basketball city and their close proximity to Indiana, along with their ABA history, would've made them and the Pacers instant rivals. Plus there is no other major league professional team in the area. The Hornets have to compete with football and in the south, that's never going to be a even battle.

                      Even St. Louis would've been a better city. Although, I think they have too many pro teams to support an NBA franchise, they would at least attend the playoff games.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                        Maybe the NBA will do a bit better research before they bring in another city. Maybe they can move to St. Louis and end that deal where the ABA 4 have to give the owners of the St. Louis Spirits money every season. If that deal is still on the books!
                        That deal was perpetual, so I'm not even sure it ends if another team locates there. That deal, IIRC, is for 1/7th of Indiana, NJ, Denver and SA's television revenue. Wouldn't you love to be on the receiving end of that?

                        Oh, and...

                        George Lynch is one of the league's elite role players.
                        Isn't that an oxymoron?

                        (Mentally cueing Bob and Tom's classic Casey Kiss'em bit: "Brought to you by Oxymoron-10, for pempil-free teenagers.")
                        Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
                        Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
                        Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
                        Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
                        And life itself, rushing over me
                        Life itself, the wind in black elms,
                        Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you

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                        • #13
                          Re: Hornets could lose more than a game tonight

                          "So Floyd got one of the lowest contracts in the league. The New Orleans theory was good ol' boy Floyd from Mississippi, who'd coached at the U. of New Orleans, would be an attraction. But as everyone knows no one comes to see anyone coach. They come to see the team win. Few were less qualified to help achieve that than Floyd. "

                          We did with Larry Bird.

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