An open letter to new Hornets owner, Tom Benson
That was really cool of you to buy the Hornets.
Since you and the Saints returned after Hurricane Katrina, you have been a champion for the city of New Orleans. Frankly, you could have placed that $338 million elsewhere and earned a lot more on your investment.
I hope you understand that owning an NBA club is a lot different from owning an NFL team.
The NBA has been dominated by two franchises. The Celtics own 17 titles, the Lakers 16.
Since the Seattle Sonics won an NBA championship in 1978-79, only one small market team has been a consistent contender. The Spurs, in a town you love, San Antonio, have won four NBA crowns. But, the Spurs also hit the Powerball and Megamillions combined when they got the first pick and drafted Tim Duncan.
Duncan happens to be one of the greatest power forwards of all time.
Here’s how tough it is to win titles in basketball. One of the best big men in the NBA in the last 30 years was Patrick Ewing. He could never get a ring with the Knicks. New York has won two NBA crowns, the last in 1973.
Maybe some of your friends will tell you the Hornets can soon be like the Oklahoma City Thunder. In three consecutive drafts, and without the No. 1 pick, the Thunder drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
But, that is the exception rather than the norm.
The Hornets could be like the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have spent a lot of time in the draft lottery. And, since moving from Vancouver in 2001-02, the Grizzlies have won 50 regular-season games just once.
Don’t be surprised if this summer you offer guard Eric Gordon a boatload of cash and he turns it down.
The NBA is a players’ league. Players know there are only a handful of clubs that can win a championship. And, when their current contracts are close to expiring, their leverage goes up substantially.
Can you imagine if there was no such thing as a franchise tag in the NFL? Your quarterback Drew Brees could have gone to the highest bidder. The fallout from a Brees departure would have been nuclear.
Tom, a lot of folks will complain about you having a New Orleans pro sports monopoly. But, there were only two owners who could afford to own a majority stake and keep the team in New Orleans. They are you and Gary Chouest.
So, thanks for sticking up for New Orleans. The state will build you a practice facility real soon, and there’ll be other goodies along the way.
By the way, I have one request. Find a naming rights partner for the arena that makes sense and sounds just right. Mercedes-Benz was the perfect choice for the Superdome.
And, good luck with NBA basketball. If you win a title anytime soon in hoops, you will indeed shock the world.