Thursday, November 22, 2007

There are no words, only tears

Minnesota 103 | New Orleans 94

This piece was supposed to be a glorious recounting of the Hornet's second route over Minneapolis while diffusing all erroneous beliefs that our attendance problems are really dragging this team down. I stand by my previous postings and can attest to the fact that (the 76ers game notwithstanding) that attendance was in fact on the rise. It wasn't where we wanted it to be, but it was getting better. Then the Timberwolves came to town on a Monday night. We sat in horrid disbelief as they outshot, outplayed, out-everythinged us in front of maybe 7,000 people. It was the kind of game where everything goes wrong. Your team doesn't show up to play, when they do show up, nothing falls, and every time you get momentum swinging to your side the refs screw it up with a call my blind aunt could have gotten right. The worst part: we had no sixth man. This scenario happens all the time. Bad teams will have good nights and good teams will have bad nights. We were down by 15-20 for most of this game, but we pulled within 7 with 2 minutes to play. Just as it looked as though we might emerge unscathed against all odds, the final nail fell hard into the coffin. No one could be heard. It seemed as though the Hornets were out there alone, with no one giving support. It didn't help that the refs really blew it in the second half, but in all honesty, this time the blame falls to New Orleans. Everyone keeps making comparisons to the Saints, suggesting that if New Orleans really cared about this team, they'd have sold out every game like the Saints. The Saints play eight games a year in New Orleans, and the had the privilege of returning before the Hornets. Basketball is also a star driven sport: if you want to go to a game, odds are you are going to pick your game based on what star will be on the other team. Tonight is a great case and point: who would you rather see, Kobe or Marko Jaric and company?

I know, I know. I'm fighting a losing battle. Every journalist who has anything to say about basketball can't write about the Hornets without mentioning their attendance woes. Meanwhile, I sit here and try to prove otherwise. Today, I was ousted. I feel like someone planned an intervention with me by scheduling this game. Now I know there is a problem. I will stand by my argument that poor attendance is not a reason to move a team (see the Adande posting from November 14), but if we can't get people into the arena, we will be financially up a creek before we know it. Actually, we may already be there.

Bill Simmons was right. He said that we would be a contender for the title if we had a home crowd to lift us over the bumps of the everyday grind. I can't even begin to deny it. I get sick to my stomach over this. I'm seriously going to have a heart attack before this season is over. It's hard for a fan to watch his or her team fail, and then notice that no one cares, and then (as if that weren't enough) realize that they are actually a very talented group of players who will probably start getting demoralized soon if something isn't done about the aforementioned problems. Benson won't let anything Hornets appear in the Superdome, Charter Communications won't broadcast the Hornet's games on Cox Sports to the Northshore (for those of you who aren't from the area, the Northshore refers to the area north of Lake Ponchitrain which is home to a sizeable percentage of the population all of whom are in the highest tax bracket), and ESPN decided to only broadcast 2 of our games this year--one of which was cancelled since Mr. Oden is out for the season. Conspiracy? Not quite. Unfortunate? You betcha.

Saturday night's game should be a good litmus test for how much this city does care about basketball. We host the Mavericks in a pretty crucial in-division game. If we can't sell out that game, I will promptly check myself into the same institution that New York Giant's fans frequent about this time of year. Oh, and in case you couldn't tell, my youthful idealism... still missing. Probably boarding the plane back to Minny.

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