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NBA Holds Hornets Future In Their Hands

NBA comissioner David Stern was reluctant in supporting the Hornets move from Charlotte to New Orleans eight years ago. As he explains, he just doesn’t like to move teams at all.

“Once we were there, once we’re some place, we try to stay there, ” Stern said Monday, pointing out his part in 1979, then as a league lawyer, unsuccessfully attempting to identify a local buyer for the Jazz, which was threatening to relocate to Salt Lake City. “I don’t mean to make it sound more grandiose than it is.

“In all fairness, this was a sudden situation, and it’s really as much about running the league in an orderly fashion and (it’s) completely what we set out to do. And so this will enable us to have the team going strong, we hope, then assess what our rights and obligations are here and see where we go from there.”

Stern said that New Orleans, which hosted the All-Star Game in 2008, was a distinct city whose charms have won him over.

“I don’t want to say I’m captivated; I want to play it straight, ” Stern said. “It’s an international destination. It has a very rich history that is different from virtually any other American city.”

Stern added jokingly: “And maybe as a lawyer I was always taken with the Napoleonic Code as being somewhat different than the common law reception of 49 other states.”

Stern said Shinn, apparently aware that his agreement with Chouest was falling apart, approached him sometime in early October, well before the league’s scheduled Board of Governors meeting at the end of the month, with the suggestion the league buy the club.

Stern wouldn’t speculate on the Hornets’ long-term future in New Orleans, indicating perhaps that additional state subsidies would be required in a new, long-term lease agreement. The current pact expires in 2014.

Again, the future for the Hornets in New Orleans is grim. You can see the Hornets financial documents of the last few years by clicking here. Stern claims the majority of teams in the league are seeing significant financial loss, which is why the league is headed for a lockout next offseason. For Stern, publicing stating that he wants to keep the team in New Orleans is the safe PR move, but make no mistake about it, if any willing investor wants to buy the team and has an arena to put the team, it won’t matter where the buyer wants the team to play, as long as it’s in the United States.

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