7 November 2005
The truth of the matter is that it was a tough go for the Hornets in New Orleans before the hurricane. Like Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas; and Memphis and Oklahoma City, for that matter New Orleans might be too small to support two major-league teams. The more established Saints have four decades of history in New Orleans, and the benefits to a city of having an NFL team, frankly, are greater than those of having an NBA team.
(Along those lines, shouldn't the NFL dip into its stadium building fund and publicly commit to helping build a new football stadium in New Orleans that would assure that the Saints remain there? The league has made untold millions hosting Super Bowls in the Big Easy over the years. It's time to repay that debt.)
No city will support a team with an 18-64 record the one the Hornets had last season for long, and Oklahoma City is surely no different. The Hornets are going to continue to be bad for a lot longer than this season. But geographically and financially, it makes sense to leave them in Oklahoma City. Equally important, people in the city are uniquely capable of understanding the pain of loss and shared suffering.
"They were sympathetic because of what they went through," Hornets owner George Shinn said last week. "They understood, and they stepped up. They made it clear to the NBA when they called that [they were not] trying to steal the team. They just want [the Hornets] to have a safe place to land."
And any notion that Oklahoma City isn't a major-league town evaporates the moment you reach the corner of 5th and Robinson.
That's where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building used to be, before Timothy McVeigh's act of madness reduced much of it to rubble.
Now a wondrous memorial to the dead and the living has risen from the ashes. And there is a nearby museum that details every second of that horrible day and many of the seconds that have come and gone since. There also is a serene outdoor mall with a reflecting pool that connects one end of the memorial to the other. There are 168 chairs lined up on one side of the memorial, one for each person killed in the explosion.
And on each wall these words are engraved:
We Come Here To Remember Those Who Were Killed, Those Who Survived, And Those Changed Forever. May All Who Leave Here Know The Impact Of Violence. May This Memorial Offer Comfort, Strength, Peace, Hope And Serenity.
Oh, Oklahoma City is big-league, all right.
The Hornets aren't going to stay 18-64. (Last year, they won two of their first 31 games; this year, they've won two of their first three.) And there's already an indication that the Saints might be on the way out the door. I do, however, like Aldridge's idea that the NFL, which doesn't exactly have an abundance of Super Bowl sites, should assist with the Superdome repair and/or replacement.
As to the question of whether the Hornets should stay, I admit that right now, I'm more concerned with whether they beat the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.
(With thanks to Doug Loudenback.)Posted at 6:21 AM to Net Proceeds