Top 3 Moments In New Orleans Hornets History: Beyond The Mic
October 30th, 2012, will mark the 10 year anniversary of the Hornets playing professional basketball in the Crescent City. The team has had it's fair share of ups and downs (more of the latter). Here are my top 3 moments in New Orleans Hornets history.
After much consideration, I'm not sure there is a clear cut number 1, but here is what I've come up with.
3. HORNETS DRAFT ANTHONY DAVIS
Perhaps I should wait several years before this makes the cut. For a team that has made several trips to the postseason over the last decade, perhaps a #3 top moment should be a particular game or performance. But any New Orleans fan that still isn't smiling about Mr. Unibrow being a Hornet is either dead or depressed. There was one player in the 2012 draft that every NBA scout marked as a "can't miss prospect," as a guy that could positively and significantly alter the future of a franchise. Anthony Davis has stirred up an excitement in a fanbase that hasn't had much to be excited about in the last 10 years. What kind of a player will Davis be? Most likely, a superstar. It may take a few years, but Mr. Unibrow has already generated a lively enthusiasm among Hornets fans that I've never seen before.
2. Hornets Beat Spurs In Game 2 Of Conference Semifinals 102-84, Take 2-0 Series Lead
I know what you're thinking. How can this be the second best moment in New Orleans Hornets history when they went on to lose the series in a heartbreaking Game 7? Bear with me for a minute. Go back to that moment in time. The future of the team had never been brighter. While the club had been to two postseasons in the Crescent City (a 4-2 first round loss to 76ers in 2003, and a 4-3 first round loss to Heat in 2004), the future was cloudy at that time. Could this team ever get beyond the first round? Would Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis be able to co-exist in the future? There were more questions than excitement.
Fast forward to the 2008 postseason and the buzz was at an all-time high. In their first full season back in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets had just won their 4th straight playoff game, were coming off an impressive 4-1 series beatdown of the Dallas Mavericks, and had defeated the defending champion Spurs by an average of 18.5 points in the first two games of the series. In that moment, Hornets fans were dreaming of both the present and the future. The core of Chris Paul, David West, and Tyson Chandler (pictured left) anchored a young, solid, inspired basketball team that galvanized the fanbase, while gaining a large bandwagon of fans in the process. With the Coach of the Year in Byron Scott, along with the MVP runner-up in Chris Paul, the thought of NBA championship banners hanging in the New Orleans Arena wasn't a pipe dream. Go back to May 5th, 2008, shortly after the Hornets notched their 62nd win of the year (56 in the regular season). On that night, in that moment in time, the euphoria of Hornets nation was as majestic as it was new.
Unfortunately, in the aftermath of a historic season, George Shinn and Jeff Bower wrote a new chapter in the book, "How to rapidly desconstruct a contender." I won't go on that rant again. This blog is for the best moments, the top moments. And my top moment is...
1. TOM BENSON PURCHASES THE HORNETS
Tom Benson buying the Hornets, assuring their future in Louisiana, ranks at the top. Sure, it isn't a moment in a game or series, but it ensures many future moments on the court. It enables me and any great fan out there with a keyboard or a pencil to write another blog like this one 10 years from now. A blog with more great moments, more awesome memories that haven't been experienced yet.
As someone who works in sports radio and has covered the Hornets since their move to New Orleans, I was extremely happy when Tom Benson (a wild card at best to purchase the franchise) snuck through the backdoor and purchased the team for $338 million. I've always openly loved the NBA. This job would be a lot less fun without the fleur-de-bees. Taking the team back from the NBA and placing it in the sole hands of an owner who has no intention of moving the team is beyond priceless. That's why it's number one on my list.
The fact that my top 3 moments only include one that took place on the basketball court is a grim reminder at how slim this franchise is on "good times" since their move to the Gulf South. But it also displays how bright the future is. With moments like #3 and #1, the New Orleans Hornets are positioning themselves to be a contender in 4 to 5 years. Suddenly, dreaming about a championship banner isn't a pipe dream...it's a reality.