New Orleans / Oklahoma City HornetsThe story with the Hornets is a complicated one. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast and essentially destroyed the city of New Orleans, Oklahoma City mayor Mick Cornett and city leaders stepped in to help.
As the clean-up in New Orleans commenced and continued, the Hornets began play at what was then known as the Ford Center and absolutely blew away expectations, both in performance as well as community and corporate support and ticket sales.
The Hornets surpassed expectations on the court, falling short of the playoffs at the end of the season but in contention for much of it. Chris Paul became Rookie of the Year as well as a city favorite, and the team finished 11th in the league in total attendance. Half of the games were sold out, and average attendance was just barely shy of full capacity.
Suddenly, the future grew even cloudier than before.
Hornets owner George Shinn, certainly a businessman, began to speak the virtues of Oklahoma City, at the same time questioning the ability of New Orleans to rebuild quickly enough to return to NBA status. A very awkward and even contentious situation began to develop.
By contract, the Hornets would play the 2006-2007 season in Oklahoma City with NBA Commissioner David Stern's reiterated intention to return the team to New Orleans in 2007-2008.
It was a wait-and-see approach for OKC residents who not only grew attached to a drastically improved roster but also to the concept of being a major-league city.
Then even more news developed...
The Seattle SuperSonics and a Group of OKC InvestorsReports surfaced late Tuesday, July 18, 2006 that a group of investors from Oklahoma City had agreed to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics from Starbucks mogul Howard Schultz. Suddenly, a once complicated situation became even more so, and many questions began to arise...