Hornets Hype

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Archive for the ‘ Hornets ’ Category

This is a Limited Edition Ticktock6 exclusive, coming at you live from the basement. I have come out of retirement to create this categorized compendium of possible Hornets names.

Regarding “serious” names versus joke names… Well, that’s how it is with this sort of thing, isn’t it? A name one person comes up with as a serious suggestion, another person thinks is hilariously lame. So I have decided to categorize according to topic and not joke/non-joke. Hopefully you can decide whether something is a joke for yourself. Hopefully (which is the real trick) the official selection committee can also decide.

Please note that in the case of C or K names, we have the option of going all Golden State and being the Crescent City ____ instead of New Orleans. I have seen that idea kicked around a couple of places. I don’t necessarily like it, but it is an option.

If you have ideas that aren’t on here, please leave them in a comment!

 

Stuff That Is “Uniquely New Orleans”

 

Creoles

Cajuns

Krewe (** See Big List of Singular Nouns, below, for more on this)

Hurricanes

Crescents

Jesters

Gris-Gris

Witchdoctors

Spirits

Potholes

Potholes Filled With Water (Oh. Sorry, I had a bad drive home from work just now.)

Outlaws

Gamblers

Streetcars

Tanks (Because everyone’s got tanking on the brain, so why not go all the way! Also, the World War II Museum)

Gutterpunks

Quarter Rats

Yats

Street Sweepers

Death (Because of ghost/vampire lore… the logo would be a giant SKULL.)

Zombies

Revelers

Paraders

Neutral Grounds

Levees

Swamp People

Breakers

Pirates

River Pirates

Captains

Corsairs

Knights/Nights

Pistols (As in Pete, not guns, but I doubt this would fly.)

Voodoo (It’s taken though)

Buccaneers (note that our ABA team was called this)

Festivals

Chefs

 

This is a nutria. It is a giant rat.

Animals

 

Crawfish

Mudbugs

Nutria (These are giant rats. I am not making this up.)

Pelicans

Redfish

Gators (Been done.)

Crawgators (I saw this somewhere. It is not a real thing. But fine. Sure. It’s an animal. Sigh.)

Shrimp (Seriously, what is wrong with people? Do you want the team to get beat up? No animal names unless it’s something mean. The cardinal rule of animal names, people.)

Mosquitos/Skeeters

 

Foods: Because There Aren’t Enough Edible Teams

 

Beignets

Jambalaya (Yes. In the singular. BOOM.)

Gumbo

Muffaletta

Etouffee

Po Boys

 

Booze: Because Why Aren’t There More Teams Named After Booze?

 

Hand Grenades

Sazeracs

Juleps

Absinthe

Beer (In the singular. As is. The New Orleans Beer.)

Go-Cups

 

Something That’s Like Jazz, You Know, Musical… Because We Can’t Have Jazz

 

Blues

Brass (Note that we used to have a minor league hockey team called this)

Bounce (What? Musical form that originated in New Orleans, you say? And everyone can shake their booty during timeouts! It will be H-O-T!)

Soul

Horns

Tipitinas

Rhythm

Funk (GUYS. And it has a DUAL MEANING. Music, and the smell of the standing water in the gutters on Bourbon Street!)

Hot Five

This is a Mardi Gras Indian

Mardi Gras Indians

 

Big Chiefs

Wild Men (I would totally root for this team. Just saying.)

Wild Tchoupitoulas (I am extremely partial to names the national media will not get/be able to pronounce.)

 

List of Singular Nouns Which, Like Neck Tattoos, I Am Against In Principle But Some of Which May Be Marginally Acceptable

 

Krewe (I personally find this better than most singular names due to the fact that, like a team, a Krewe is a group of people. If we are the Krewe, I prefer to be the Krewe of New Orleans instead of the New Orleans Krewe. The reasons being twofold: 1) It matches Mardi Gras Krewe nomenclature, ie: they are all Krewe of ____, 2) It yields the abbreviation of KNO rather than NOK, which would remind people too much of the Hornets’ much-hated Oklahoma City stint after Katrina.)

Sound

Flavor

Brass (this is a popular suggestion, and appears above under Music, but it is also a dreaded Singular)

Corruption

Decadence

Lagniappe

Big Easy

Humidity (When we played the Heat, things would get sweaty.)

Weather

Crime

Breeze (Ho Ho, we have a player named Drew Brees. We won’t forever, doofwads. Plus this name sucks.)

Bayou (I guess my thing here is the same as with animal names. The first evaluating question should be, “CAN IT KILL YOU? OR AT LEAST FUCK YOU UP?” If not, probably best to move on.)

Pride

Carnival (Or the Crescent City Carnival, as opposed to New Orleans. How alliterative.)

Rex

 

 

Names Which Are Counterparts to “Saints” But Which Are Mostly Lame

 

Angels

Archangels (and its Gil McGregor-esque pun twin, Arc Angels… shudder… No, look, I could hardly type it. I WOULD DIE.)

Sinners

Crunk (After the Saints’ touchdown song, naturally! Actually, can we just do this? I would put aside my aversion to singular names to be the New Orleans Crunk.)

 

Names That Really Are a Joke. Really.

Mormons

Latter Day Saints

Polygamists (the idea being that Salt Lake City gets so offended at the proposal of these names, they trade Jazz back to us)

Hu$tler$

… The Twitter Section’s pet idea. Please note that both S’s in Hustlers will appear as dollar signs on the jerseys. We designed this team’s entire concept during the 3rd quarter of Hornets/Jazz. It has meanings on multiple levels. 1) Basketball players who hustle– the innocent meaning that you save for Grandma, 2) Drug dealers– let’s face it, we have a lot of drug dealers in New Orleans, 3) Dudes who scam you by asking you where you got your shoes, 4) There is in fact a Hustler Club on Bourbon Street. The team colors are green, chrome, and diamond. (You will have to ask @LSUhornet17 what the color diamond entails, exactly.) After wins, they drop fake dollar bills instead of confetti. There is a massive built-in array of songs and sound clips involving Hustlers. Instead of “The Hive” the arena shall be referred to as “The Club.” What’s the  logo? Glad you asked. This.

 

Wishful Fucking Thinking

Jazz

 

They say that every sport is all about winning.  Unless you can’t.  So what’s left then?  Watching the sport.  Is that so bad?  Before you reply, consider this: I’m talking about one season.  One Lockout-shortened season.  After which our team has two first round draft-picks.  And maybe more, pending a possible Kaman trade.  So is it so bad to watch basketball excellence for a half, to stop playing in the third, followed by a final, futile comeback in the fourth; or a tight game through three quarters, only to be followed by a massive collapse in the fourth?  It’s frustrating, I know.  But, based on the fast-paced back and forth nature of the game, followed by the expectation of better tomorrows to come, I think it’s safe to say it’s gonna be okay.  You just have to change your mindset a bit.

General Manager Dell Demps and Coach Monty Williams both come from the San Antonio organization and, in many ways, model this franchise on that one, hoping to replicate the same success through finding the right pieces, the right attitudes, and employing the right system–starting from the ground up.  Consider their model, the Spurs, which, in 1995-1996, were 59-23, ultimately losing in the Western Conference semi-finals.  The next year, their superstar center, David Robinson, went down with an injury, and the team was 20-62, and failed to even make the playoffs.  That offseason, the ping pong balls delivered them Tim Duncan.  The next season, with Robinson back, the Spurs went on to a 56-23 season, and again made it to  the Western Conference semis.  The following year the Spurs won it all.  And from there, a dynasty was born, with 4 Larry O’Briens in 9 years.

Is Monty the next Popovich?  Will injured shooting guard Eric Gordon be our David Robinson?  And will one or both of our ping pong balls deliver us the League’s next superstar?  I don’t know.  But I believe this team, with all its injuries, bad luck, and lack of practice time, will come back next year: hungry, angry, rested, practiced, and ready to demolish the rest of the League.  If there’s one thing that can be said about this team is that it tries.  Some losing teams give up; you can see it in their play, and in the looks on their faces.  Not these guys.  Their effort, night to night, and coming so close, again and again, is admirable.  So, next year, assuming the team is healthy, I expect the Hornets to return to the Playoffs.  But, that said, how do we, as fans, survive this season?  And as an esteemed member of the Hornets’ Twitter group, #twittersection asked last night, why do we come back next year?  Because there is plenty to enjoy, losses be damned.  America derides losses, but sometimes loses the trees for the forest.

All we have to do is just be fans.  It’s not that hard.  You think Belinelli worries about the last shot he missed?  You think Okafor wonders on each defensive rotation whether he blocked the last shot that came his way?  We all love basketball.  We need to do that.  Let’s love what we can, and let the rest fall away.  I’ve been told repeatedly by casual fans that they love the experience of the Hornets games, win or lose.  Bring the kids.  Cheer loud.  Enjoy the Arena’s house jazz band.  Enjoy the middle school drum line.  Cross your fingers that the halftime show is that lady that tosses the bowls on her head.  Enjoy the Mardi Gras Baby, King, and Jester race, the dance cam, and the kiss cam.  It’s all part of the basketball experience.  There’s no reason more serious basketball fans can’t do the same thing.  Join the cheers, clap, and berate Dick Bavetta and the other Donaghy-type refs.  And if you’re watching at home, crack a beer (or five) and watch (or tweet or live-blog) with friends.  Talk about what works, criticize what doesn’t.  But just watch the sport, and keep your eyes off the final score.

Above all, let go of your expectations.  Don’t get wrapped up in hoping for wins in this 2011-2012 season.  As ADAA champion, Peter La Fleur, once said: “I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya, it feels phenomenal.”  Look how that worked out for La Fleur: he ended up winning it all.  Regardless, that’s how Hornets fans will survive this season: no expectations.  Don’t focus on the outcome, but the moment-to-moment minutia that made you love basketball in the first place.

Marvel at the improvement in Okafor’s offensive game.  Appreciate those times Jack finds the right shots just behind a screener and pulls up for a mid-range, open jumper; and his fast penetration dribble that causes problems, making the right pass once he draws in the defenders; rather than those other times when he dribbles the ball at the top of the key for 20 seconds.  Cheer for Marco off the bench to hit those trademark off-balance jumpers, and those long threes that send the Italian flags running around the arena.  Watch Aminu grow into the NBA game, using his length and athleticism to defend and rebound, and look for that moment when he will figure out his offensive role, and the purpose that will make him dangerous. Smile at Jason Smith’s open jumpers hitting bottom, followed by a vicious block on the other end; and stop being surprised when he takes his man off the dribble and throws it down.  Stand up and holler like a madman when Vasquez and Ayon take over games with their high energy offense-defense tandem: Ayon slipping the pick and Vasquez making a bounce pass through traffic for an easy lay-in,  Ayon getting the deflection on the other end, and outletting to Vasquez on a break, which ends in the athletic Summers dunking it over a scrambling defender.  Take pride in the success hard work can bring, as evidenced by 29-year-old rookie and Nola product, Squeaky Johnson, leading the second unit.  Watch Xavier Henry work his way back into the rotation after injury, and believe everything will be okay once Gordon does the same.  Above all, enjoy the passion with which this team plays moment-to-moment, working so hard to play their best.  Because, as fans, what more can we ask?

It’s okay, Hornets fans.  It’s not always about the wins.  Some seasons, it’s just not in the cards.  But, if you love the sport, seeing three-fourths of a great game from your team can be enough.  Take a deep breath, enjoy what you can, get mad when the defense doesn’t rotate fast enough or the refs blow a call.  But don’t sweat it when the team loses by 2, again.  Believe this is just one season.  One Lockout-shortened season.  With current team owner, Stern, picking those ping pong balls in June.  Think back to the conspiracy theories about how the Knicks got Ewing and the Spurs got Duncan.  Believe it’s our turn next.  That’s part of your solace.

Let the anger and frustration from the results wash away.  It’s all we can do.  Unless you can hoop better than these guys and can finagle a try-out before the add deadline, you can’t control the outcome, you can only watch.  But you can survive.  As New Orleanians know, sometimes that’s enough.

So watch the games, get excited, and cheer for the Hornets on every play.  Our guys are trying hard, they deserve our support.  If you watch, you will still see great basketball and be entertained.  Just don’t expect wins.  Not this year.  But that’s okay.  Sometimes the trip is more important than the destination.  Winners are forged in fire.  What today’s ordeal brings will be bound to tomorrow’s successes.  So hang tight.  We’re in this together.  The team is frustrated, the fans are frustrated.  But believe that this will make us all stronger.

Believe that this season is an aberration; ignore the standings.  Have no expectations other than to watch an intense competition.  Enjoy the little things done right this year.  Because it is those things, combined with health and some talented new rookies, that will lead to success next year.  That’s how Hornets fans survive the 2011-2012 season.

Talking With The Big Heads

By on January 21, 2012

On January 20, 2010, Hornets radio voice, Sean Kelley hosted a live interactive fan conference call with Hornets President, Hugh Weber, Vice-President and General Manager, Dell Demps, and scores of season ticket holders. Over the hour-long call, both men established that they are committed to building not just a new Hornets team, but a new image, a new culture, and a new identify for the Hornets organization.

Each of the key pieces to the Hornet’s front office has his own watchwords. Weber’s are my least favorite; to him, it’s all about products, investments, markets, and branding. I understand that as a businessman, those words probably mean are as casually thrown around as the words “pass” and “score” at a Hornets practice, and perhaps they help him gauge strategy and success in a purely financial capacity. For one though, I hate thinking of a business made of up people (the coaches, staff, and players), as a “product.” If you listen to any speech by Weber, he uses these words repeatedly, as if he’s trying to figure out how to market a suitcase company’s new brand of luggage. (I counted his use of the word “brand” 4 times during the call.) Although Hornets head coach, Monty Williams, wasn’t on the call, he has his word too: defense. It is a mantra he instills in each of his players, and not just on the court; clearly, for Williams, they need to use the word every time they talk as part of an all-encompassing philosophy. Listen to interviews with Hornets players; you’d think they get fined if they speak without using the word “defense.” I particularly love it when the question has nothing to do with defense and that is their answer anyway (“Jarrett, how were you able to penetrate the Mavs’ 2-3 zone all night?” “Well, we made big stops on defense and used that to spark our offense in transition.”) Dell’s word is my favorite, though: culture. He, at least, seems to understand that it is about people. He understands it is about attitude, teamwork, and grit. Throughout the conference call he made it clear that he is doing everything possible to get this team on the right track ,and, despite the team’s struggles so far this year, it is not hard to see that Demps and company have things moving in the right direction.

Almost as soon as the call began, the question of who will buy the Hornets from the NBA was asked. Personally, I expected Chouest to re-surface shortly after the CBA was inked, but it appears the NBA is unwilling to sell the team until a new lease for the Arena is inked. While neither Weber or Demps indicated who might ultimately buy the team, they did say that they hoped to announce an owner by February, and said they want to hold a press conference with the Governor to announce both a new owner and a new lease for the Arena. A new lease for this new owner would include no benchmarks, and would expect to run through 2024 or 2025. Weber indicated he wanted the new lease to show that:

Fans can rest at ease that this is their team, and a team that they can count on for many generations to come.

Indeed, Weber is so confident about getting the new lease done, he said the team wasn’t even watching the benchmark situation at all, as the new lease would supersede the current lease. He was concerned about the contract with Cox Sports, though, as currently the amount of fans that can watch the game is limited. Currently, CST, which shows all the games, is only available on Cox Cable, Charter, and Dish Network, but not DirectTV or U-Verse. Weber stressed that this was not a Northshore-Southshore thing, but just a matter of contractual disputes between different providers. As Weber said, “if [people] cannot watch our games, they cannot become fans.” At any rate, the contract with Cox expires this year, so hopefully the Hornets will strong arm it into accepting better terms for the team.

Another issue that was asked about was the naming rights for the Arena. While Weber refused to comment on any ongoing negotiations, or the rumor that one proposal was the “Louisiana Seafood Arena Seasoned by Zatarain’s,” he indicated that Louisiana Seafood (full name Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, a 15 member governmental board formed in 1984 to strengthen and revitalize the Louisiana seafood industry) and Zatarain’s a major sponsors of the Hornets, and that the Hornets would be proud to have either of their names on the Arena. Nonetheless, Weber was clear that nothing was in place with anyone yet. Weber did indicate, however, that naming the Arena was a key step of the organization’s plan; “a big piece of the future,” as he put it, and part of the “legacy” they are trying to create as a successful franchise.

Before long, the conversation turned to New Orleans being a small market, and the impact that had on creating a winning team. Demps said the new CBA gives teams like New Orleans a fair chance to win with the players it drafts, because rookie contracts typically allow teams to keep a player 4 years; and, even after that, the player is a restricted free agent, making it possible for a team to re-sign the player for another 3-5 years. When asked what it takes to lure free agents to New Orleans, that is, to make this team a preferred destination, Demps had an interesting answer. Demps indicated that under the new CBA it is hard to get free agents. A lot of the available ones, he said, are restricted free agents, and teams end up overpaying to get those guys. Also, he mentioned that the unrestricted free agents are usually older, around 29, and you have to consider that when you go after them. At the end of the day, he said you just have to build a good team, and have a winning culture, which makes players want to be here.

When asked about Eric Gordon , Demps responded that Gordon wants to be here, and that he likes New Orleans. Gordon obviously has a bruised patella, which continues to swell, and Demps did not know when he would return to the court, indictating that extra tests would be done this weekend. Demps said that the team is more concerned with protecting Gordon’s long-term health, rather than trying to get him back too soon. Demps said that hoped for a resolution on Gordon soon. Whether he was referring to the injury or a possible contract extension was unclear.

One brave fan asked about Jarrett Jack as a long-term starter at point guard. Demps indicated that Jack has embraced his role, and is playing well, and that the team has no plans to change their point guard. Nonetheless, he said you can never say you won’t change. Reading between the lines: we have no choice.

There were also plenty of questions about the Hornets bigs. No surprise that the questions began with the team’s presumptive starter at the power forward position this year, Carl Landry. Demps admitted that Landry has had an up and down season, but that he will get his chance to earn his minutes, just like everyone else. Demps also discussed brief the fact that Kaman and and Okafor play differently, and that each brings something to the table, and that Monty is still experimenting with what works best. Demps added that Jason Smith has really stepped up, surprising them–but then he caught himself and rephrased, saying that Smith had developed ahead of schedule. Dell also seemed really happy to have Gustavo Ayon, and said that Ayon’s not knowing Engilsh hasn’t really been impediment, based on his high basketball IQ, and having an assistant who speaks both languages (and added that he’s learning English quickly). Ultimately, Demps seemed to acknowledge that the team has a problem may teams wish they had: too many bigs.. The key, though, seems not figuring out what each one can do, but what they can do together. As Dell put it:

[It] Doesn’t matter about the name on the back of the jersey, we’re more concerned about the name on the front of the jersey.

Someone else asked if Demps if he thought the Hornets were weak at the small forward position. He quickly responded that the team had a quality 3 in Trevor Ariza, who had, until recently, been injured. Demps made the good point that, against Houston, Kevin Martin exploded for 27 points in the first half; but, in the second, the Hornets switched Ariza onto him, and Martin was was held to only 5 points that half. Interestingly, of the “wing” position in generally, as Demps referred to the 2 and 3 spots, he said “In our system, the shooting guard and small forward are interchangeable.” What makes that even more interesting is Demps’ and Williams’ preference also to play combo 1/2 guards at the shooting guard spot, blurring that line, too.

One fan asked about the team’s early struggles, and whether that means Monty should play more of the younger players, and maybe go for that draft pick. Demps immediately answered he wanted to win, but admitted that “playing young players is important.” Particularly, he said the team needed to figure out how well Al-Farouq Aminu, Jason Smith, Xavier Henry, Dajuan Summers, and Gustavo Ayon can play, to better know what to look for in the draft. Regarding the struggles, though, he pointed out that the team has continued to play with passion, and that if they keep giving the amount of energy they did the other night in Houston, that he expects more wins will follow. He did point out, though, that the team’s full line-up has yet to be healthy at any point this year. Speaking of the road game at Houston, Demps said that he had never seen a bench so energized, jumping up and rooting on their teammates, and generally going crazy over every good play. I thought the same thing at the time, and I’m glad to know that this team is hungry for it.

At home, one thing that fans love is the new live music played at Arena time-outs. Weber indicated the small side stage they play on may become a thing of the past, as a more prominent stage could be developed. Significantly, he said of the decision to bring music to the Arena that:

We stop and reflect about who we are and what our brand is, and over the offseason we really looked at what this city is about and our community is about.

And that led to the music. Bravo. All the fans ask is that the live music is played more often. Why play any non-live music at all? Fans will wait and see. Now, if they can just get the food to match.

Fortunately, one fan brought up the concessions at the Arena, and asked if the Hornets would be improving them anytime soon. While Weber said they are “always trying to press a little harder to make sure that the concessions offered in the Arena are reflective of…the community,” which goes in line with what he said about the music, this may be a harder goal to achieve. Weber mentioned that they brought in Louisiana Seafood as a partner on concessions, but that is a marketing board, not a vendor, and he said that efforts to bring in higher quality items were controlled by Centerplate and SMG, which means you won’t see Emeril grilling in the Arena anytime soon. While I love the fact that Weber wants to add great food to the New Orleans experience, as long as they essentially have a generic cafeteria service providing the food, it won’t matter, if the sign says “French Quarter Franks” or “Bob’s Hot Dogs,” the product will be the same. Weber added that he believes the Arena food should be the best of any Arena in the country. No one’s disputing that. But the team needs a new concessions contract to achieve that goal. With this, the Cox contract, and the lease, it makes you wonder who the Hornets’ lawyers are, and if they even read these contracts before telling then-owner, George Shinn, to sign.

At the end of the hour, the season ticket holders listening had reason to feel good about their team. I, for one, was convinced that this team is going in the right directions. Said Dell Demps: “I’m a bad loser.” That’s what Hornets fans want to hear. Another great thing to hear was Weber indicating that the front office is spending three to four times more on scouting and talent development than prior iterations of the team. That has been a huge problem in the past, and if snagging Ayon, and the fast-development of Smith are any indication, the problem may be solved.

Weber told listeners that one of his goals is that when people come to visit the city, he wants seeing a Hornets game to be at the top of their list of things to do. With all that is going on in New Orleans, that will be a tough goal to achieve. But, if this front office keeps building on their current successes, they may well achieve that goal.

Lakers vs. Hornets.  A streetfight to the finish.  May the second best team win.  Kobe proved karma is dead by sticking a dagger in the back of every Sacramento fan last night and denying them one more happy moment, one small shimmer of victory in a season full of struggles.  This all a day after Kobe called a referee “a fucking fag” after being awarded a technical.  (I hope the refs respond by keeping the Mamba on a quick tech whistle watch during Round 1.)  Don’t believe it, Google it, the video evidence is incontrovertible.  He was fined $100,000 by Stern.  Deservedly.  It would have been an appropriate moment for Kobe to miss that one last desperate three and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fail.  Didn’t work that way.

I’ve always been a Kobe fan, and still admire his skill; but there is something Greek-tragic-classic about a man refusing to recognize another’s time to shine and later paying the price.  I’ll be in the back row, Games 3, 4, and maybe 6, booing him every time he touches the ball.  Twittersection will be in full effect. Anywho,  you can also share Game 1 with friends.  Have fun.  You just have to know where to go.  The folks at Hornets247.com have a suggestion: go to their watch party.  From their site:

Where: The Doors Pizza.

It’s located at 7537 Maple Street, New Orleans, LA 70118.

When: Party starts at 1pm. Game starts at 2:30.

Sounds good.  Cheer the home team.  Boo Kobe.  Hate the Lakers.  Share well wishes for David West.  Drink beer.  Send sexts.  Whatever does it for you.  (Hopefully all of the above.)  Oh, and feel free to tell anyone present that we’d have a chance to win if we still had Marcus Thornton.  I’ll get your back.  Just don’t mention it to ticktock6; she might break her Abita bottle on the bar and stab someone.  Yup, she’s the one who answered the 247 poll: “Nothing satisfies me. I love Marcus Thornton.”  So did I.

[Deep sigh.]

Difficult year, no doubt.  But let’s go out swinging.

We Were Right And You Were Wrong

By on March 15, 2011

Guess what Monty Williams and Dell Demps?  Give Marcus Thornton 41 minutes a game and he might just drop 42 for ya.  On 13-20 shooting.  On 4-7 from deep.  Maybe the young guard who’s so explosive and agile, always avoiding contact, will only have 1 FTA (made) at half, but then the other team will be forced to hack him mercilessly on the other side, desperate to stop him, somehow: only to find the guy ending up at 12-14 from the line.  Maybe this mythical hero would also add 3 boards, an assist, and 4 steals for good measure.  Oh, and with ZERO turnovers.

And for those jokers out there saying Buckets could only do it on a losing team?  This came in a blow-out win.  Scoring is scoring.  It always helps.

In comparison, the Hornets’ starting 2, Marco Belinelli, went 3-10 (3-8 from deep), and his backup, Willie Green, went 7-16 (3-4 from deep).  Not bad, but that was 10-26 in 54 minutes of play.  Belinelli’s and Green’s combined 27 not even close to Thornton’s production, even with 13 more minutes of play.  Oh, and when the Hornets’ vaunted defense failed, it was their inability to keep pace with the high-scoring Nuggets that led to the loss.  Weird.

Ticktock6 said “Lil’ Buckets” graduated to just plain “Buckets” when he dropped 30+ on the Cavs last year.  Maybe now that he’s cracked 40+ he’s “Big Buckets” or “Bi’ Buckets.”  Take your pick, or twist it your own way.  Sadly, we’ll have to leave it to the Kings fans to decide.  Because the Hornets management couldn’t find a way to use either of two of the best five rookies from last year.  In particular, Thornton is immensely talented, and anyone who’s watched a modicum of basketball should have realized it.  Shame.  Our loss is their gain.

I’m happy for Marcus, though, and wish him the best.  I just wish it was happening in New Orleans.  To all those who felt otherwise?  (And you know who you are.)  Well.  We were right.  And you were wrong.

Tuesday night, with the trade deadline looming, the Hornets were good enough to give us just under an hour with the team’s general manager, Dell Demps.  Although he, like any NBA front office person, was guarded, you could still get a good glimpse of his thoughts by reading how he answered questions, which answers he gave enthusiastically, and which he just had to give.

There was no doubt that Demps came to New Orleans day one with a plan on how he believed this team could succeed; he sold Shinn and Chouest and later Jack Sperling and the NBA.  For the second time in as many times as I’ve heard him talk, he made it clear that if the Hornets could seriously improve the team, the luxury tax wouldn’t stop them.  He also seems fairly confident with the constant phone calls being made, that, more likely than not, a trade will be made before the deadline.

Demps also was insistent that both Chris Paul and David West were in the team’s long term plans.  Chris is under contract; David he knows won’t sign an extension for economic reasons, but Demps sounded confident he could re-sign DX.  Plus, he said any personnel moves are run by both guys.  All of this fits into the long-term goal that Demps has of turning this team into the kind of team that players want to play for, the kind of team that guys believe they can make a contender by being the last piece.  The man is committed to not just success, but success here; he just bought a house, loves it here, and says his family feels the same.  That’s more than Sean Payton can say.

When asked about specific players, he acknowledged Ariza’s up and down play, but was confident that his defense was instrumental in the team’s success.  That said, I find it hard to believe Ariza’s name is legitimately coming up in trade rumors.  He said Chris’s knee is fine, but it was muscles in his quad that gave them pause and led to the knee brace–and that such injuries can take two years from which to fully recover.  Again, Demps said Marcus was inconsistent, and capable of being great, but also of doing nothing.  Sadly, nothing Dell said made me believe Thornton will see much playing time this year, let alone end up on this team.  Interestingly, Demps indicated one of the difficulties in getting a back-up for Chris was that such a player’s minutes would be limited, so they wanted someone that could play back-up point as well as the two.  He never mentioned Bayless, but I have to think he better fit this bill than Jack, who he did mention.  Actually, Thornton could do that.  Nonetheless, it does makes sense of the team’s love affair with Green.

Although the absurdity of smallball was not specifically mentioned, Demps did say he was shopping for a backup big more than anything, and that Ariza had blown some defensive assignments when playing out of place at the 4.  When fans expressed frustration with the stagnant offense, Demps did say that the team has a “20 second rule,” whereby the guy with the ball has to cross half-court before the 20 seconds point on the 24-second clock.  He blamed poor offensive execution on moving on bringing the ball up too slow, as well as lackluster approaches to setting screens.

More than one fan stopped Dell to thank him for making this year so successful.  Each time applause ensued.  Demps said pundits didn’t expect much from the Hornets this year, and he’s loved proving them wrong.  I wasn’t one of those, but Demps’ thoughts echoed ours: with Paul, West, and Okafor, there’s no excuse for not winning.

Petition for More Marcus Buckets

By on February 16, 2011

NBAtv’s Rick Kamla knows Marcus Thornton is “Lil’ Buckets.”  Gil and Bob from CST’s Cox Sports know it.  Let’s face it, he knows it.  The Hype has written about Marcus plenty, albeit, much of it last year.  If you’ve been following him too, you know the nickname didn’t come out of thin air; MT5 can ball.  Somehow, he and Darren “Lil’ Dimes” Collison had enough verve and pluck to make Hornets basketball watchable last year, in a season devastated by injuries, and losses abounding.  After watching our Lil’ rook run over defenses across the League, I think just about everyone assumed Marcus would start at shooting guard for the Hornets this year.

Didn’t happen.

Marcus Motherfucking Lil Buckets ThorntonPeople at AtTheHive and Hornets247 are good people, and write the best Hornets-related content on the web.  But many of the people over there are sick of hearing posters complain about Marcus’ minutes.  Last year we talked about giving up too many layups and horrible defense every game.  Seems fair to me to talk about the problems with each team, each game, each year. Regardless, we decided to help out our kindred bloggers.  Send your Thornton fans our way, and have them SIGN THE PETITION FOR MORE MARCUS BUCKETS!

The fact is, opposing announcers always seem apprehensive when Marcus enters the game.  Opposing defenders pay a little more attention to him than Belinelli, Green, or Jack.  Kid can make shots.  In a hurry.  Just watch his flow, his explosion on the break, his quick release;  he’s one of the few NBA players I just love to watch ball.  The best part?  It doesn’t matter if you’re in his face, in his way, or fouling him; he’s going to get to the rim, blow by you, or shoot over you.  And he’ll score.  In a hurry.

Some people think it’s childish to think Monty “doesn’t like” the kid.  But can you think of one basketball reason why he’s not the best option at the 2 for New Orleans?  Or for that matter, not at least the second best option at the 2?  I can’t.  Let me stop you right there.  The parroted answer is “defense.”  These are the same corporate yes-men that say Belinelli is in the game for his defense.  [Record scratch - music stops]  Wait, what?  No.  The Italian can shoot, no doubt, but let’s not get overeager–he’s never been known as a defender and isn’t this year.  Or is it that he says he cares about defense?  I’m not being facetious.  Listen to every interview with every Hornets coach and player and count the times they answer a question having nothing to do with defense with some iteration of “it’s all about defense for us.”

I think Monty is so insistent on converting this squad to a defensive mindset, that if he calls you at 3AM, and you have the balls to answer “Hello?” instead of “Defense?” it’s back to the end of the bench.  If that’s the case, and it’s Marcus’ expressed commitment, rather than actual play, I say we all need to shout at Marcus and call him a dummy.  Because hecan fix that easy.  Just eat, breathe, and sleep defense.  Say “defense” when you roll out of bed in the morning, Marcus, whisper “defense” when you get in your car, and say it again as you walk into work.  Damn, get “Defense” tattooed on the back of your hands, son, so you can’t forget.  But, then again, maybe that’s not it.

Whatever “untouchable” point Monty is fussing over, every rule is made to be broken.  So, Monty, I think you’re a great coach, but just play the fucking kid already.  He’s the third most talented scorer you have, and absolutely has the most untapped potential of any player on your roster: meaning, he needs minutes to improve.  Yes, Coach Williams needs to trust Marcus the way he’s trusted all his other players, and give him time to work out any issues he sees with his game.  Otherwise, the kid will never improve.

And why let him get away, so he can succeed elsewhere, when he clearly has a strong bond with the New Orleans crowd, and has to love playing for his home team.  (Um…tickets, anyone?  People love him, they’ll pay to see him?  Hello?!?)  The people of New Orleans believe in Marcus.  And more than a few of us know something about the game.  So, coach, play the kid!

You know, I really meant this to be a one paragraph post, but here I am, still writing.  I can’t help it.  I love Marcus Buckets.  If you’re gushing to talk about Thornton too, and other sites are becoming less receptive to your chatter, bring it here.  Unleash whatever you have to say.  As for the haters: feel free to post whatever you want; we won’t censor you.  But, you post, you sign the Petition.  So there’s that.  Also, for those of you that like to read blogs and not post, that’s cool, but, if you care about Marcus, just put in your name and random words.  Ball.  1.  Freedom.  Pink garters.  Alkjdfl;kaewr! What happened to Ticktock6?  Whatever does it for you.

So, come on down, folks, and sign the PETITION FOR MORE MARCUS BUCKETS by posting below:

The New Orleans Hornets are currently one of two teams (the Oklahoma Thunder being the other) that start each game with an Arena-wide, pre-game prayer.  This strange occurrence is a hybrid of religious zeal and moneymaking, as the Hornets sell this slot of proselytizing to the highest bidder.   While I’ve been told that anyone can pay for the privilege of delivering this prayer, and, indeed, we’ve heard Jewish Rabbis come forward multiple times, nine times out of ten it’s a Christian prayer. In contrast, I have yet to hear an atheist step on the hardwood and dedicate a few moments to reason and logic, wish the players well, admit that each player’s health is a motley mix of conditioning and pure chance, and wish them the best. Instead, we are subjected to a game day prayer to Jesus (no, they rarely say his name, but they almost always say something similar to “In Your Name We Pray,” it’s not hard to read between the lines) to  ask the big guy in the sky to bestow good health to the players on both sides of the floor. What’s missed in the well wishes is the excessive entanglement with religion in a place where it is simply out of place.

The Hornets, as opposed to, say, LSU, or Benjamin Franklin High, are a private institution, not run by the state or any of its many subdivisions. This means, strictly speaking, many Constitutional provisions that would guarantee freedom, equality, and non-discrimination do not apply to the Hornets; that is, unless the team determines that such values correspond to its corporate mission. Private institutions, otherwise, are, in part, free to espouse whatever values they want. For example, you’ve no doubt seen Chick-Fil-A around town. They have an expressly Christian value-system built into their corporate ethos, and have even been known to fund anti-gay causes. The New Orleans City Council can’t do that, but Chick-Fil-A is free to hate whomever they want.

The rub is that the Fourteenth Amendment allows Congress to prescribe prophylactic remedies, such as Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) laws, and these statutes can touch even private institutions. The basic gist is that employees cannot be discriminated in the workplace because of race, religion, sex, nationality, etc. There is a “religious organization” exception, i.e., if the organization’s purpose and affiliation is overtly religious, such as a church, or if the company’s or charity’s articles of incorporation state a religious purpose. The NBA is not one of these groups. As such, its non-discrimination policy reads:

Equal employment opportunity is a fundamental principle at the NBA. Accordingly, the NBA’s EEO Policy provides that all employment decisions will be based on merit and valid job qualifications and will be made without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, alienage or citizenship status, ancestry, marital status, creed, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, veteran status, familial status, or any or status or characteristic protected by applicable federal, state or local law.

I added the emphasis to the above quote.  So how is this relevant to the Hornets? Because the NBA owns the Hornets. Therefore, every single Hornets employee is an NBA employee.  Hornets’ blogger, Joe Gerrity, was recently brave enough to question the Hornets’ pre-game prayer. Although the poll Hornets247 ran concomitantly with that article is gone, approximately 65% of people were in favor of the pre-game prayer, about 25% were against it, and the remainder didn’t care. But that is precisely the point of anti-discrimination statutes: to preclude a majority of people from discriminating against the minority.

For Christians whose beliefs are in-line with the pre-game prayer, it is an innocuous blessing. For those of opposing beliefs, it may be less so. And for those that believe in no higher power, but instead rely upon science, logic, ethics, and reasoning to guide their lives, the entire thing is a travesty. The point is not which side is “right.” The point is, if it is opposed by as many as a quarter of the people who care, it should be done away with, regardless of NBA rules.  Why stir such strong sentiments when they are ultimately irrelevant to the product produced by the NBA?

Regardless, the NBA’s own anti-discrimination policy forbids the pre-game prayer. Similarly, if my private, non-religious employer decided to start the work day with a prayer, there is no doubt that it would violate the tenets of the EEO Act. It is harassment. Plain and simple. If you’re a Christian, it probably is not. If you’re a non-Christian it is. End of story. This is the part that is difficult for the dominant, Christian majority to get: some people are offended by your religion.

Think about this: if we were talking about basketball at a public school, like either of the aforementioned LSU or Benjamin Franklin High, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that an opening prayer would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion”), which is applied to the states and their subdivisions by the Fourteenth Amendment. There are a number of similarly decided lawsuits related to high school football games that are squarely on point.  This is because governments and their many subdivisions are precluded from favoring any religion over any other religion, or even favoring believing in any religion over believing in none at all.

If a pre-game prayer at a public school is viewed as religious coercion, excessive entanglement with religion, a message sent to a minority that they are outsiders, or an establishment of a “normative” religious belief (all language used by the U.S. Supreme Court), why, just because the Hornets are a private organization, would the team want to do something so blatantly discriminatory, when it doesn’t need to go there at all? Basketball should be inclusive, not decisive; sport is about bringing together people of all sorts to witness elite competition, to see others striving for physical perfection: not an opportunity for ecumenical proselytizing to a captive audience.

Arguably, sport is the antithesis of religion. It involves physical contact, facts, strategies, cause and effect. Religion involves intangibles, faith, and suspension of disbelief. Players cannot afford to trust in god they won’t get hurt; they have to stretch and condition. Players can’t just pray they make their shots; they practice, practice, and then practice more. Nor do coaches read the Bible in search of parables in lieu of drawing up X and O plays.  The prodigal son doesn’t know how to defeat a zone.  

Many players and coaches are religious, and that is fine. That is their personal belief. But in opposition to religion; where people are supposed to merely trust that their traditions, priests, and God have their best interests in mind and are subsumed by acquiescence to belief in a omnipotent benevolence, no questions asked; NBA players and coaches cannot afford to simply do what has always been done: they must evolve,they must innovate.  To be elite in the NBA, players and coaches have to watch game film, strategize, and think through each game plan and opponent: reasoning their way to success, practicing and honing those strategies on a daily basis, and executing them all at the highest level to achieve victory.  Thus, unlike religion, basketball is palpable, responsive, and falsifiable.

So even were the NBA not the Hornets’ owner, it is clear that religion has no place in the NBA. But seeing as the NBA is the Hornets’ owner, and all the team’s employees are Hornets employees, exposing them to religious prayer before every game is a form of religious intolerance; because, as the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear, religious discrimination is not just favoring one religion over any other, but favoring belief in religion over non-belief.  Twenty eight teams in the NBA get it right.  Two do not.  One, the New Orleans Hornets, is owned by an organization professing non-discriminatory principles. Yet, the Hornets’ pre-game prayer violates those principles every home game.

Forty-one times a year, the Hornets and the NBA offend me and many others.  Maybe more this year if the team makes the Playoffs.  It needs to change.

Hornets Hyped in Brazil

By on February 2, 2011

Although Hornets’ fans have decried the lack of National TV games for the New Orleans Hornets this season, it’s obvious that anyone who has League Pass or watches NBA highlights still loves, at the very least, Chris Paul, who was one of two guards elected by popular vote to start for the Western Conference All-Stars in Dallas.  This is not just a U.S. phenomenon, though; Paul and the Hornets are followed worldwide.  We’ve pointed out in the past that the Chinese love CP3 (or “Small Cannon” as they call him–among other nicknames), and have linked to blogs and forums in China, as well as Germany.  Well, now we have one more to add from Brazil:

NoHornetsBrasil, which y’all can find at http://nohornetsbrasil.wordpress.com/.  You will need to be able to read Portuguese to read their posts, but I have it on good authority that they rock, and no doubt they are hyping the Hornets.  Or, if you trust Google, check out its page translator and input NoHornetsBrasil’s website.

I know the Hornets were popular in Brazil when we had Marcus Vinicius (pictured on right) as one of our young, developing players.  Alas, he never quite became the player we were hoping when we picked him up in the mid-second round in 2006.  By 2008, Vinicius was shipped out to Memphis as part of the trade that brought us Bonzi Wells and Mike James.  Soon thereafter, he returned to Brazil, and, ultimately, surfaced in the Italian League.  Also, if you watched the Worlds closely over the summer, you would have seen him representing Brazil.  Anywho, it looks like some people in Brazil still dig the Hornets.

So, no matter what language the folks over at NoHornetsBrasil are writing, or how you read their posts, we love having more and more people writing and reading about, watching, following, and just loving the Hornets.  Welcome to the extended Hornets family, NoHornetsBrasil!

Help Save the Hornets. For Real.

By on December 27, 2010

Sure, we joked about buying the Hornets. But low and behold the guys over at Hornets247 have organized a real charity organization, the Save Our Hornets Foundation, which is accepting donations to help put people in seats at the Hornets game, to help ensure the attendance benchmark is set and the Hornets are locked into several more years of their lease, making it much more likely that the next owner is someone who wants to keep the team in New Orleans.

This Foundation is for real and sends schoolkids to games, so it’s a great cause in more ways than one.  No one need be rich to help.  Twenty bucks here, ten bucks there (or more), and with all the different donors, it will add up.  So this holiday season, take the time to give a little (or a lot) to help keep the Hornets in New Orleans.  Prove wrong the world who thinks New Orleans can’t support more than one championship team.  It’s the right thing to do.