December 07, 2010
On his way out of the NBA, here's how everyone should remember that disingenuous Hornets owner George Shinn: Holding a microphone, stealing cheers that belonged to his coach and players, and telling lies about how he saved the NBA in New Orleans.
Three years ago, Shinn took his bows at halftime of a Hornets-San Antonio Spurs playoff game and sold himself as the force that brought the team back to a post-Katrina New Orleans. "They told me I was crazy to come back," Shinn said, and how the fans roared for this man who was an unholy blend of Donald Sterling and Jimmy Swaggart. The ultimate photo-op phony.
Indeed, that is the perfect way for you to remember a speck like Shinn if forced to choose between memories. But as time moves along and people tend to forgive and forget, it's important to remember just what Shinn did, and what he represented.
I just want you to remember him.
I want you to remember the reason why there isn't a vibrant, locally encouraged Charlotte Hornets team any more. I want you to remember the reason why the Hornets were so unloved by their once-fervent fan base as they skulked out of town in 2002. Shinn is the reason.
I want you to remember why it is that New Orleans was taunted with the prospects of a pro basketball team -- a very, very good pro basketball team at times -- even though the league and the owner of the team likely knew well before jetting down to the bayou that this area could not support two professional franchises that usually overlap for two or three months in a calendar year.
I want you to remember how Shinn tried to abscond to Oklahoma City in an instant once Hurricane Katrina gave him an excuse to. Nobody would blame him for moving to a city that would allow him to run his business profitably, had he not already needlessly ruined his team's time in North Carolina and moved to a city that just about everyone told him not to move to. And not to mess with. And not to taunt, because nobody saw the Hornets' time in New Orleans ending well. Yes, even back in 2001 and 2002.
I want you to remember the man who couldn't be bothered to walk next door to his neighbor Paul Silas' house to give him the news of his firing as Hornets head coach in 2003. Silas himself had to walk to Shinn's front door following the news and, to his credit, bemusedly ask the owner if the coaching switch was for real. It was. Unlike George Shinn.
I want you to remember the man that gave Tim Floyd (a duplicitous, Eddie Haskell-type in Shinn's image if we ever saw one) a second chance as NBA head coach, wasting the time of a burgeoning fan base in New Orleans that deserved better.
I want you to remember how Shinn treated former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, who built a winner in Louisiana and was on his way toward rebuilding another after having to deal with the look-at-me nonsense of Hornets prez Hugh Weber for years, and was unceremoniously dumped after hiring so-far Coach of the Year Monty Williams last summer.
And I'd like you to remember what a waste, as the Hornets are taken over by an embarrassed NBA, it all was.
How it didn't have to end like that in Charlotte, and how (despite all the very good times in the team's run in Louisiana), things didn't have to be tempted toward and taken away in New Orleans. How the NBA didn't have to lose face as it embarks on what are some much-needed changes to the collective bargaining agreement, how the league's best point guard (though he hasn't exactly handled himself with aplomb) is left having to wonder if it will ever end, and what could be the feel-good story of the season has once again -- because of one man -- turned into the feel-dirty story of the year.
This is all because of George Shinn. Remember that.