We are three games into the Second Tyson Era. We have three wins to show for it, and three monster performances from Mr. Chandler, who wants to show you, Jeff Bower, and the world that he still has it. As for Chris Paul and David West, two superstars who were vocally opposed to his departure and even more vocally ecstatic about having Tyson back? Monster games in his absence (albeit, due to injury, but nonetheless after word of the trade was made public), to show the world that with the team on their backs they would carry it.
But with Tyson back on the floor? We have a young core of Paul, West, and Chandler. Three against the world. Add to that a savvy, sharp-shooting veteran in Peja Stojakovic, and a resurgent Rasual Butler hitting from everywhere and an aggressive defender. Not to mention former-starter Morris Peterson coming off the bench alongside the roughshod championship swagger of James Posey. This has not only the makings of a championship team, but a dynasty team. Coach Scott has gotten this team playing well together and they have great chemistry on and off the field. Moreover, they are all well-known as good people, who stay out of trouble, and contribute to their community.
So I ask you, Mr. Shinn: what will it take to keep this team together? Tell them. Tell us. We know that as of right now, the team salary will be over the luxury tax next year. Fine. So how much money do you need to make to make it worth your while? Throw down the gauntlet. What if the team makes the second round of the Playoffs? How much more income would that bring you? The Western Conference Finals? The NBA Finals? What would it take? Tell the team. Challenge them. You might be surprised.
How about us? The Fans? We’re already averaging above 97% seat capacity at home games. What more can we do? Should the dollar beers at the pre-game Buzzfest cost two dollars? Are we not buying enough merchandise? Chris Paul’s merchandise is the fourth most popular League-wide. Is it because we haven’t bought more Butler jerseys? Should we have bought matching shorts? T-shirts? Is buying two drinks inside the arena instead of three doing it? Tell us.
I think you’d find that the people of New Orleans have embraced the Hornets and have come to love them as one of their own, as if they were born and raised here. That’s just the kind of city this is. So maybe you should talk to us. All of us. Don’t just implode the team that you and Mr. Bower and Coach Scott have so masterfully built just because we started a little slow this year. We understand there are fiscal realities, but look how long Denver gave Iverson and Anthony to gel before calling it quits. Prove your critics wrong by showing you have what it takes to be a championship owner. But if you want, put some of the onus on us.
I know that, personally, I’d do whatever it takes to keep our core together. I love these guys. I believe they will win this city a championship. Maybe even more than one. The NBA is prone to having multi-championship winners once a team evolves to that level of play. And, honestly, who else would you rather build a winner around than Chris Paul? He and this team are your future investment. They will bring the returns you’re looking for. They just need the chance.
So while we will root for the Hornets rabidly, knowing this could be their last year together, knowing that the summer could bring a heart-breaking roster implosion, and we expect the guys to play like it’s their last year together and give 141%, we ask you again: what will it take to keep this team together?
You told us all to have Passion, Purpose, and Pride. We do. Our team does. But do you? Or is it just about the almighty dollar?