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Representatives of the NBA players proclaimed that they hoped for a summary judgment in their federal litigation within sixty days of filing suit. The Owners claimed the players turning to litigation was a sham, meant as an improper negotiation tool, and likely ended any hope of an NBA season this year. Had the players stuck out their litigation, the Owners would have been right; but, regardless, the Players fell right into Stern’s trap.

Before the players disclaimed their Union, the NBA and the Owners, on August 2, 2011, filed suit in the U.S. Southern District Court of New York. As a time-reference, the case has basically gone nowhere in over three months. It is Civil Case 11-cv-05369, before Judge Paul G. Gardephe. In federal litigation, Rule 12 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that defendants have 21 days to answer a lawsuit after the Complaint has been served; but, if the defendants waive formal service, they have 60 days to respond. While it is not clear when the various services were made in this case (which probably indicates formal service was waived), the court held a status conference on September 7, 2011, which is quicker than one might have expected. At that telephone conference, the Players indicated an intent to file a Motion to Dismiss, and, a week later, the Court ordered it filed by September 16, 2011. Any written opposition by the NBA (or its individual teams) was ordered due by October 10, 2011, with any response by the players to that opposition due by October 19, 2011. Other conferences were had with the judge, though, several delays were requested, and finally, the players filed their Motion on October 19th. The NBA’s opposition was filed shortly thereafter. The matter is still under consideration. This is the timetable one can expect from federal litigation.

No Union what?The NBA and its individual teams filed their suit as a preemptive strike, asking the Court to declare that any attempt to disclaim or decertify would be an improper action, a violation of the collective bargaining process. They pointed in their Complaint to a long history of the Players threatening to do this in an effort to leverage a better bargaining result, and asked the Court to find this bad faith bargaining, to find the lockout valid under antitrust laws, and the disclaimer invalid. The NBA and the pointed out that a different federal court had recently refused to order an injunction against the NFL lockout. The Players’ Motion to Dismiss, in which they essentially called the NBA’s suit bullshit posturing about “what if” scenarios and an improper legal response to the hard bluffs of negotiation, was a fairly good argument that the NBA’s suit was premature, and that there was as of yet no justiciable controversy. The problem is, the Players derided the “disclaim” option as totally unfounded, preposterous, and an option that wasn’t even being considered by the players, who, allegedly, were bargaining in good faith with the League. Oops. The day after the Players did disclaim their Union, the NBA wrote a letter to the Judge, arguing that the Players’ had done precisely what they threatened to do, and that any “what if” objections the players had were clearly moot. The Players’ attorneys’ response was a not-too-thinly-veiled we spent X hours preparing this Motion to get this fucker dismissed and the players did what? type of response. The Judge did not appear happy.

Meanwhile, the players, on November 15, 2011, filed two suits: one in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota and one in the U.S. Northern District of California. They ended up voluntarily dismissing the California action, perhaps they were forum shopping, hoping for a friendly judge, and ultimately realized the Minnesota court was where they wanted to be. Or, perhaps it was the fact that California Judge Samuel Conti set a scheduling order the date the suit was filed, ordering that the Rule 26 Conference be had on February 8, 2012, with another case management conference on February 29, 2012. This was Civil Case 11-cv-05525. A Rule 26 conference is what leads to the initial disclosures each side makes, and pre-dates any discovery, depositions, and most other court actions. So there’s another timetable. And this is typical of any case, let alone a multi-billion dollar case, which, I can assure you, no judge is in any hurry to decide. In a car wreck case, valued at $50-100k, judges like to allow the parties to negotiate and settle it between themselves. So what do you think is going to happen here? Regardless, the Players dismissed their California suit.

The Minnesota suit is Civil Case 11-cv-03352, before Judge Patrick J. Schlitz. Interestingly, each of the New York, California, and Minnesota suits requested jury trials. Did the players really think twelve random people were going to feel sorry for them only making $3M a year instead of $5M? But I digress. A week after filing suit, court records show service returns on the NBA, the New York Knicks, and the New Jersey Nets. It is highly unlikely the Court will hold any status conferences until everyone is served. So since we’re already two weeks out, even if served this week, each of the other 28 defendants will have 21 more days to answer. Or 60 if they signed waivers of service. If the players sent waivers. I would have just gone straight to formal service if I was trying to push along a case. But you would expect the NBA to ask for a dismissal or stay pending the outcome of their litigation in New York. So that would require briefing, argument, and time for the court to decide.

As for the players’ claims of summary judgment within sixty days? You can’t get judgment on a party that hasn’t answered. So while the NBA, Knicks, and Nets have to answer by December 13, 2011, expect for them to request an extension in the time to answer until all the defendants are served. So there’s no chance in hell a summary judgment is filed in 60 days, let alone decided. Plus, even ignoring the fact that the NBA and League would first file a Motion to Dismiss or Request For Stay, litigants have to give their opponents a minimum of 15 days notice when filing. There is no chance they could get a date set before New Year’s, and even once the Motion is submitted, even if oral argument is granted, the Court does not have to decide anything on the spot, and can take the matter under advisement, after which there is no rule controlling when a decision must be rendered.

Stern's way or the highway.Also, as opposed to a Motion to Dismiss, which merely focuses on the sufficiency of the Complaint, a Motion for Summary Judgment must be submitted with sufficient evidence, and the non-movant can, under Rule 56, always request a continuance (or denial) of the Motion if it needs more time to do discovery. And can you imagine in a multi-billion dollar case that a judge would refuse to allow the parties to conduct plenty of discovery? Not to mention that if a summary judgment is denied, and the case continues, it could be years before going to trial. Our legal sources, who asked not to be named, indicated that their last federal summary judgment action came 10 months after suit was filed, and a month later, no decision has been rendered. The last two federal trials that our same sources participated in took place over two years after the filing of suit. These are the timeframes we can expect from any litigation. Now or in the future.

So, now, only weeks after claiming the Union was not protecting the Players’ interests, a deal looks to be worked out? Of course, to sign a new CBA, the players have to first dismiss their Minnesota suit and then reform the Union. So did the players tactic work? No. Stern is playing chess, not checkers. He’s not just trying to win this round, but the next. And in six years, when the new deal will likely expire, the NBA will file their New York suit all over again, and when the players respond that the mere concept of them “disclaiming” is ludicrous, that judge will shake his or her head and know the players are lying. The players filed suit claiming the Union could not help them, and that, resultingly, the NBA was instantly in violation of antitrust law? Yet, then, mysteriously, without the Union’s help, they reached a deal not even two weeks later, which, I would wager, looks suspiciously similar to the deal the Union had negotiated up to the point of disclaimer? The NBA’s preemptive suit argued that antitrust exemptions were not lost the instant a Union disclaims or decertifies, and their argument that the tactic of doing so is a sham just got stronger. Have the players thought that through? Their lawyers, who are the same high-priced antitrust sports experts, who tried similar cases decades ago for the NBA, and recently for the NFL, must be furious. What will their argument be next time?

Read the timelines referenced above again. No federal court case worth billions of dollars will be decided in any less than one year, and likely not for two or more years. That’s assuming, of course, no decision is ever appealed. Our sources were involved in a March 2006 federal lawsuit, whereby summary judgment was granted in September 2007. The other side appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. After briefing and argument, a decision was not rendered until September 2008. But, an en banc hearing was requested. That is, unsatisfied with the decision of 3 judges, one of the parties requested a hearing before the entire Fifth Circuit panel. After additional briefing and argument, a decision was rendered in December 2009. But, that too was appealed. The U.S. Supreme Court accepted briefs and arguments, and in June 2010, over four years and three months since suit was filed, the matter was finally resolved. While it is possible a year could be cut off that timeline if the Supreme Court declined to hear the matter, if anyone thinks either the players or NBA would be content to let a trial court judge decide their billion-dollar fates, they’re crazy. This is how litigation works. It will not be over quickly. The parties will not enjoy it. No one wins.

So no is the answer to the question you haven’t asked, as to whether litigation is an effective tactic in professional sports collective bargaining disputes. By the time any resolution is reached, multiple seasons will have been lost. And if liability carriers are willing to settle cases for $50k to avoid maybe paying $100k, can you imagine the trepidation of either side in the NBA being found liable for billions? It will never happen. So what happened then? What was this litigation all about? It was a ploy. A stratagem. The players get to save face and tell the world they forced a resolution. But they also haven’t told us how many hundreds of thousands they spent on legal fees when they could have just paid for plane tickets back to the bargaining table with the NBA. And they’ve all but told federal courts that this is what they do, and that disclaiming is an empty, bogus threat. Just look at the November 26th news conference announcing a tentative deal: Fisher and Hunter were there. (No Union exists, but they are still negotiating with the League?  Even during the litigation? Judges will watch this process.)  Next time this comes to court, the Players arguing disclaimer is not a sham will look like liars. So the NBA wins. Sort of.

The biggest losers of this whole experience however, are the rest of us. The arena workers prevented from working. The fans unable to watch the games. The fact that multi-millionaires couldn’t agree to share a multi-billion dollar pot isn’t the biggest concern to most ordinary people. We just want basketball. Union, Players, Owners, Teams: at the end of the day who cares who wins? This isn’t about protecting the pensions of people struggling to pay mortgages; this isn’t about keeping wages up for people struggling to put their kids through school. This is one faction of the 1% calling the other faction of the 1% greedy bastards. Black, meet Kettle. Kettle, Black.

As for me, all I want is a fair system that gives every team the opportunity to win. A system that allows Chris Paul to be to New Orleans what Brett Favre was to Green Bay. Moreover, I want a league where the cult of personality does not decide the fate of the team; where, for example, a young Aaron Rodgers can be brought in to lead the next generation of small-town fans to frenzy when Favre walks. I don’t want losing Chris Paul to make people question whether New Orleans should even have a team. If that means caring who “won” the lockout, then maybe I do care.

But litigation wasn’t the answer. For either side. It was never going to solve anything. For both Players and Owners it was bullshit posturing. Now we get 66 games crushed in from December to April. And for what? I hope it was worth it for both sides, who spent so much of this summer not meeting. Remember that when you think of these lost 16 games and all the crying over lost revenue. Right now I just want to remember why I am such a huge basketball fan. Because, honestly, turned off as much as I have been by both sides throughout this process, it’s hard to remember why Samuel L. Jackson’s last lockout commercials (“The NBA, it’s faaAAAAAaaaantastic”) made sense.

Lots of people are talking about players’ rights versus owners’ rights, basketball being a business, winning is everything, and it all breaking down into an almost mechanical equation of loyalists of all varieties, arguing three sides to every story.  Lebron this, Amare this, Chris Paul that.  Kevin Durant.  But there is something more to it, something primal, that on a base level, each of us implicitly realizes, no matter how many manufactured storylines are put forth by Stern, the Media, or the so-called reality television shows which are even now infesting this sport.  It’s greatness.  It’s that thing that makes one individual greater than the sum or so many before him that have tried and failed; it’s that which allows one to put his teammates on his shoulders and carry or push them through or over every obstacle to victory.  It’s an intangible quality precious few possess.

Greatness is never given to you.  It must be earned.  You cannot be born into it without sacrifice, dedication, and effort.  It cannot be handed to you on a silver platter.  It must be uniquely yours, a what-some-would-call destiny forged through your sweat and tears: a combination of what is possible and what you will to be.  Today, though, too many people, be they athletes, celebrities, or the well-to-do, have a sense of entitlement, like yesteryear’s aristocracy, that they were born special so they should have it all with little or no effort.  Lebron James is the prototype of this societal model: before he had played a single game in the NBA he was called “King James.”  Yet what’s to say then that he wouldn’t have been the Darko, the DeShawn Stevenson, or even Jermaine O’Neal?  Who knew for sure that that 18-year-old would be a two-time MVP?  Then?  No one.  Nevertheless, it was all given to him from day one, marketed to him, signed, sealed, and delivered to him.  Even now, or at least up until “The Decision,”  he still is  (was) treated like aristocracy despite his anti-climatic disappointments the last two years.  Having the best regular season record in the League only to flame out in the Playoffs?  Let’s let the blame fall where it belongs: on the man who doesn’t have the heart of a champion.

So untouchable was James, before Wojnarowski roasted him, he was lionized despite his obvious faults.  Look at ESPN’s free agency picture for him (above).  The basketball falls behind his head like a too-low saint’s halo.  Which intern broke through his or her boss’ blinders, and was like, dude, you have to lower the rock, people will think we’re trying to make him into Jesus.  Who?  “King James,” the “Chosen One”?  What?  I know, hard to imagine elevating him with near-religious overtones.  Fortunately, not everyone has fallen under his monumental shadow.  There are those, who have always seen he just doesn’t have It.  But is Chris Paul one of them?

Each and every time Lebron has had a chance to be a champion, he’s faltered.  Every time he needed to show heart, he shrank from it.  If it isn’t part of his billion-dollar plan, he’s not invested.  And now, when there’s no one left to blame, when his team has generously spent well beyond the luxury tax, given him every free agent and trade they could, and even fired his coach and GM, Lebron finally realized it was all on him.  So he ran.  I’m not criticizing him for being a “new generation” player, or as someone one who wants to play with friends rather than see all others as the enemy, as someone in the modern free agency era exercising his contractual rights, or even as an force swinging the balance of power relations between players and owners and striking a hit against The Man; I simply submit that he looked greatness in the eye and blinked first.  Not only that, he turned away, and walked the other way, head down.

The greatest among us, those who we should put forth as examples of what humanity can achieve don’t run from the hardest of obstacles: they smash through them.  History is replete with such individuals, but being what this is, I’ll stay focused on basketball.  Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship until his seventh year, as the media incessantlyreminded us for the first two rounds of the Playoffs last year, the (surprise!) seventh year of Lebron’s faux-reign.  MJ didn’t run.  He worked harder.  He made it happen, he pushed himself to levels that maybe no other basketball player has reached.  A few years later, Kobe Bryant had the good life with Shaq, and then it was all torn apart; egos got involved, Kobe made some questionable personal choices, struggled through both bad seasons and legal battles.  Sure, he made trade demands, chided his team for not improving, and so maybe had some help in being forced to stay along for the ride, but in so doing so, proved all his critics wrong, defying all those who said he couldn’t play unselfishly, that he couldn’t play injured, couldn’t win without Shaq, or beat the Celtics.  He overcame all that and now stands on the cusp of his sixth ring.  Or Paul Pierce.  He could never get over the edge with then-pal Antoine Walker, suffered several miserable years, was badly injured, and even, at one point, was stabbed eleven fucking times.  Did Pierce quit, give up, or run?  That’s not who he is.  Pierce stayed in Boston and waited for his team to improve.  Then, when the moment came, he seized it.  People can talk about KG and Shuttleworth all they want, but anyone who watched those games three years ago knew that it was Pierce who had the soul of the winner, that it was Pierce who put them all on his shoulders and made them champions: highlighted penultimately by his epic Game 7 mortal combat finish with Lebron in the Eastern Conference Finals.  With all three of these players, Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, you can tell that they have It.  That Something that makes them great.  Lebron, for all his talent, doesn’t.

So where does that leave Chris Paul?

That’s the question isn’t it?  When healthy, there’s no dispute, other than from a few disgruntled Jazz fans, that CP3 is the best lead guard in the League.  Most would probably mark him down as a top-five NBA player.  But is he just one more injury away from being Tracy McGrady?  Is he a half-season of quitting away from being Vince Carter?  Or is he more like Kobe, the man who withstood the challenges to his primacy from those two players, and who pulled up those around him to win two straight championships?

Some people say Chris is a punk, who’s mean, and plays dirty.  Well, although few people other than Jeff Van Gundy said it at the time, it’s now generally acknowledged that Jordan was the same.  There’s a fine line between dirty and using all your tricks to get every advantage.  Ask Bruce Bowen about that.  I think, like Mike, Chris toes that line and is such an uber-competitor that he will resort to anything to get the W.  It’s what sets him apart.

Chris Paul does it all.  He can score, he can control the ball, he can appropriate it from the careless, and he can distribute the rock with an uncanny floor vision: an inversion of the NBA-expected dominant big man.  Most importantly, though, he’s always seemed to have It.  When Lebron has the ball in the last minute of games, I see a man who believes he is entitled to hit the game winner.  When I see Kobe do the same, I see death in his eyes: a man who wants to win more than he wants to score.  There’s a crucial difference between the two.  I see an intense look in Chris’ eyes at the ends of games.  Anyone who watched the first home game against the Nuggets last year got it; months after one of the worst Playoff drubbings every, Chris took over and had his revenge.  The man just would not be stopped.  It’s that Something that lets him take over games and his made him a star.  That edge earned him the nickname The Baby Faced Assassin.  Or, as the Chinese call him, Small Cannon.  Either way, the man is magic and will bring unparalleled talent no matter where he plays.  Which brings us full circle.

Personally, I hope the place he finds his greatness is New Orleans.  I hope that like Jordan, Kobe, and Pierce, Chris Paul decides to find his legacy within and not waste that efficacy by acquiescing to the myth that greatness can be found in aggregate desire.  Is staying in Nola what Chris wants, though?  Does he have the fortitude to lead his team to greatness?  Is that what is written in his soul, or does he just want to play which a bunch of sure things and duke it out with other sure things, the city that he saved be damned?  It’s what the Greeks would call an examination of Character.

One of the most moving moments in sports history is watching the high school game that Chris Paul dedicated to his grandfather.  You can find a video of it if you look.  It’ll send chills throughout you, even here in New Orleans in July.  In tribute to his 61-year-old grandfather who had just been murdered, an emotional Chris swore he’d score 61 points in a high school game.  That day, his will was supreme, and the words “obstacles” and “you cannot” held no meaning.  When CP finally hit the last shot to reach that sublime 61, he fell to the floor in ecstatic relief, which, in itself, is a cathartic experience, even vicariously; but, then, to watch Chris go to the free throw line and intentionally miss his shots?  It wasn’t about a scoring record or what college he’d get to play for the next year.  It wasn’t about him.  It was about a grandfather who had been his heart and soul.  That, I have always believed, is the day the world learned Chris Paul’s character.

So what, Chris, do you think your grandfather would say about your association with LRMR?  It’s not hard to see what they are.  That them, Leon Rose, and Worldwide Wes are all trying to tell you what to do to be a “better” investment, a better “character.”  But is that who you are?  A follower?  What happened to being the Savior of New Orleans?  Wasn’t that good enough?  Whatever you do, it should be you telling them how it is.  We’ve seen your character.  We know you can be great.  But you have to actualize that greatness, and not self-abnegate it.  With it, you can lead the Hornets to a championship.  Without it, you’ll just be that guy who scored a lot of points, made a lot of money, and disappointed a lot of people.

Your choice.

Well, for better or for worse, the Jeff Bower era is over in New Orleans.  It’s 2010, do you know where your general manager is?  No doubt Bower was a conservative force, but a prudent one too.  He brought in Tyson Chandler for almost nothing.  When it was obvious Tyson was hurt, he remedied a potential mistake in giving him back away, by getting Okafor for him.  People bitch, but Tyson played 51 games last year; Okafor 82.  Bower also made sure to lock down Chris Paul through at least 2012.  Oh, and he drafted those Collison and Thornton Kids, First and Second All-Rookie Team picks.  Plus, Quincy Pondexter and Craig Brackins looked pretty good this year in Vegas.

Was Bower a good coach?  Did he want to coach for longer than most of last season?  I thought so.  But it seemed Chris wanted it to go another way.  Regardless, him firing Byron was a tough call that had to be made.  Anyone watching our first 9 games knew that everyone but Chris had quit on Byron.  So let’s hope Bower getting the boot as coach or as GM had nothing to do with Chris.  Not because I care if CP feels that way, but because I don’t want my team giving into him.

Sure, I recognize CP is the greatest player the Hornets have ever seen.  But a team can’t just give a player everything he wants and expect him to respect it.  Look at the Cavaliers.  On the flip side, did the Lakers acquiesce to Kobe’s one-time trade demand, or his call to trade Bynum?  No, instead they told him to suit up and went and got Gasol.  Now, three more championships later, the Lakers’ GM, Mitch Kupchak, looks brilliant.

So the Hornets went out and got a Coach, one CP supposedly lobbied for over Bower’s choice of Tom Thibodeau.  Now they have a young GM from the Spurs organization, a team we keep hearing that Nola has modeled itself after.  So let’s hope those moves were made for the right reasons, because I’m already sick of the Era of the Lebrons.  In this modern era, it seems like too often it is all about what can be done easily, cheaply, fastly.  Spare no adverb.  Market big teams, play up their stars and start rumors of all small market stars jumping ship; easy revenue.  Can’t build a team of your own through trades and draft, just sign all the best players to the same team.  Why earn anything when you can be given it?  Why become a champion when you’re already King?

Unfortunately, the last question is what worries me most.  CP has joined forces with LRMR, Lebron’s management company, ditching his long-time agency, Octagon.  Not one person I’ve spoken to via any medium in existence has thought this a good move.  LRMR has only embarrassed themselves and Lebron this summer.  I’ve yet to hear from anyone that they were competent or have any idea what they are doing.  They are hangers-on of Lebron who are blowing through his money long enough to bamboozle, coerce, and sexually harass their way up the American corporate ladder.  I have my sources too, and none report anything good out of this camp.  Then, there are the media credentials snuffed by Lebron’s camp for bad press, and the dunk videos suppressed.  Are these are today’s role models for young kids?  Be friends with someone who is rich and act like you’re in a rap video.  But let’s berate those nerds who actually paid attention in class or had the audacity to go to college, or gasp, graduate school.  Those are the *gasp* “academic elite.”  Yeah, let’s put down people that work on their brains as much as NBAers work on their bodies and game.  Too bad we don’t respect those people as much as professional athletes.

Anywho, CBS is reporting Chris Paul has played his last game as a Hornet.  So say “people close to him.”  Close how?  His mother?  His cousin?  His mailman?  The guy he met at Barnes & Noble?  It says he wants to go to the Magic, Lakers, or Knicks.  Unsurprisingly, the article also mentions LRMR as a reason he will “fight his way out of New Orleans.”  Weird, yesterday’s Times Picayune, said that Chris was “likes the current changes under way.”  This only highlights how much the CBS article is pure speculation, which, of course, is all the media is anymore.  Gone are the days of objective journalism.  Whether you’re FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN, whatever, you’re more likely to hear about Paris Hilton than genocide in Somalia.  You’re also not as likely to hear the pros or cons of President Obama’s policies as much as one channel will tell you he’s a Nazi-Socialist guarded by liberal elites, while the other will tell you he’s a brilliant consensus-bringer that has majority support and is hampered by feet-dragging bottom-feeders.  It’s like the world’s controlled by some evil genius who controls all information in a plot to make us all dumber.  All I want is CP back on the court doing his thing.  Is that so much?  I mean, can we leave the gossip alone and talk about how he’s preparing, how is injury recovery is coming, what strategy he’s talked over with Coach Williams?  Let me know.

If you don’t know, New Orleans is an extremely loyal town, but we’re also extremely protective.  We know what we have, we love what we have, and we protect it against all who would take it away from us or disparage it.  We love our cultural icons, whether Huey Long, Louis Armstrong, or Marie Laveau.  Take now the Saints’ Drew Brees?  He’s a permanent hero.  A Super Bowl Champion.  Brees and Co. are also useful in the NBA context, proving the glaring lie that most media outlets have espoused this summer: Chris Paul must leave because New Orleans can’t support a world champion.  Um, February?  Saints?  Super Bowl?  Ring a bell?  I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman.  In fairness, though, Brees came here after being rejected by his former team.  He had his chip.  Chris’ has always been being picked after other guards, being told he was too small.  He used those things to push him.  But does he need to feel the love from some other team too?  I hope not.  Look at the greats before you, CP: Russell, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Pierce.  All their legacies are defined by playing for a single team.  Learn from them, not Lebron.

I say show us something, Chris.  Prove to us you can win anywhere.  Jason Kidd’s been to two Finals.  Nash has been to the Conference Finals three times.  They both have you.  Prove you’re the best floor leader in the League.  Show us you’re the best on the floor, show us you have the desire to win because it’s inside you, and that you don’t need to find it in some symbiotic celebrity collage.  Michael didn’t need Magic.  Magic didn’t need Bird.  And you don’t need whoever.  You have David West.  You have Peja.  You have Marcus Buckets.  No, they’re not Wade, Bosh, or Lebron.  But Michael had Pippen and Grant; Rodman and Kukoc.  Magic had Worthy and Scott.  This team, if it stays healthy, can compete.  The world has forgotten, but David West carried this team at times, as did Peja; but when injuries piled up, the results were mediocre.  But with a healthy Chris Paul et al., the Hornets can contend.  We just need CP3 to be out there giving it his all, instead of worrying about getting out of his contract.  So, Chris, leave LRMR at the door and show us your heart.  Or did choosing LRMR show us precisely that?  I hope not.

Bower built this team.  He built it to win.  That’s why @snavetrebor calls him Bower Robotnik; he’s an evil genius, planning on worldwide domination.  Y’all reading this post can look at the pictures above and tell me if they are one and the same.  But my real question is whether this Hornets team be Bower’s legacy, or that of the Lebrons?  That is, will this team built to win now disintegrate in the wake of a selfish star demanding a trade?  CBS thinks so.  But I’ll believe it when I see it.  As for now, it’s all conjecture and madness.  Come fall, I think Chris Paul will remind the world why he should have gotten an MVP award before Lebron.  I think he’ll show the world what 50+ wins looks like.  And he’ll do it in a Hornets uniform.  Book it.

So let me sum up:

I'll be over here with my four friends, trying to process this.

I'll be over here with my four friends, trying to process this.

Jeff Bower has been fired. The Hornets are in the middle of free agency and haven’t signed anyone but Aaron Gray. They were already dealing with a million and two rumors of George Shinn’s sketchiness, and now they’re dealing with more because they may have backed out of Luther Head’s contract for no good reason and his agent is pitching a fit. Oh, plus the rumors that Chris Paul wants nothing to do with this mess. Let us not forget the Tom Thibodeau drama. And the rumors that the sale of the team to Gary Chouest has been held up for … why? Who even knows what the deal is? The last time there was a public statement was back in May when the local New Orleans public was told the deal was done.

Whether you liked Bower or not (I’m personally ambivalent), having him here was infinitely better than having no one. Who’s making the basketball decisions around here? The Assistant GM is– Oh. That’s right. We don’t have one. The guy in charge is George Shinn’s brother-in-law, who was a food service executive before joining the Hornets in 2005 (leaving aside for the moment the fact that he thinks Chris Paul rumors are started by people like me who “live in basements, in their pajamas” and never the perfectly legitimate New York media who are soooo responsible simply because they have a desk in an office).

Oh hey, maybe the VP is a basketball guy? Ha. Maybe he’s George Shinn’s son who has only a high school diploma, but according to his bio in the media guide “relies on his 20 years of experience in basketball to provide insight about basketball-related decisions” and “has been closely involved with the Hornets organization since its inception in 1987.” That sounds like a lot of experience. Huh. Maybe I am wrong. Except I’m not. Y’all, Chad Shinn is 30. His biography actually, no joke, IS COUNTING THE VAST EXPERIENCE HE GLEANED AS A 10-YEAR-OLD AMONG HIS QUALIFICATIONS. But hey, we do have, like, two scouts though. Let’s give a Hornets Hype shout out to our two scouts! What uuuuuupp Basketball Operations Department! Keep on fighting the good fight there. Yeah.

I mean, have I missed anything here? Can we get some basketball people up in here?

Dear god, I’m surrounded by idiots. Get me six martinis. I’ll be over there, with my fingers in my ears till October. I… can’t… hear… you.

  • So Darren Collison is leaving Vegas? Too bad. Thornton looked like he was forcing a lot of shots without him to penetrate last night. Our team will probably beast on everyone a little less than expected.
  • Quincy Pondexter is quite the multi-tasker, isn’t he? Nice shot, nice aggressiveness, nice muscle, nice energy. He’s put together two straight nice games. Julian Wright should be worried. Right now this kid looks more deserving of his minutes.
  • CON: Brackins pulled down zero rebounds last night. But he did eventually dunk, toward the end of last night’s game. I was so excited to see him in the post I thought I was hallucinating.
  • PRO: Monty Williams, on Brackins’ game: “Playing that many minutes without a rebound is not something that we will put up with.” BWAHA! I like this guy already.
  • Kevin McHale thinks that David West doesn’t have a post game. No wonder Kevin McHale is no longer coaching…
  • Did anyone see Nellie at Friday night’s game? He looked totally drunk or stoned or both.
  • Lawrence Frank is now my new favorite thing on NBA TV. After the game, he insinuated with an entirely straight face that Nellie was drunk, so I know it wasn’t just me who thought that. How’d I miss this guy? He’s much more suited to being on my TV than being with the Nets anyway.
  • I like this Kyle Hines kid. He plays like he’s much bigger than 6-6. Think the Hornets will give him a camp invite? (Don’t know where he would play… he’s a 4. But he’s way undersized. And we already have all these undersized power forwards. But it doesn’t hurt to ask him to camp.)
  • Hornets signed Aaron Gray. Guess that means they don’t need the Dude With the Aaron Gray Hair (Sonderleiter). They already have the real one.
  • I think the people who harp on Thornton’s defense are just parroting stuff Byron Scott used to say and not really watching him. He is both fiesty and fast, plus he crashes the boards with abandon down there among the tall trees. I think 5 out of his 6 rebounds last night were on the defensive end. He’s not as long as some other guys, but he works hard.
  • In fact he outrebounded everyone on the team… this says more about them than about him, however.
  • I did think Lil Buckets was lazy on O last night, however. Every time he tried to involve others, they dropped the ball or something. Lazy or frustrated, couldn’t tell. He took a bazillion poor fadeaway jumpers. Still shot 7-14 though, which is 50% so it can’t be as bad as I remember it being. But those two missed FTs probably lost the game for the Hornets.
  • David Thorpe: “One of my lasting memories of this week will be Marcus Thornton ferociously attacking the rim the way a tiger  goes after a deer. He makes an angry face and blows to the hole.  If he was 6’6, he’d be an all-star.  As it is, he’s a terrific NBA player.” This should be on Thornton’s bulletin board.
  • That Wheeler guy has brown hair on the sides with a yellow stripe on top. @LSUHornet17 described it best when he said, “It’s like a mohawk made purely out of hair dye.” Haha.
  • Hornets had a late lead in both games and somehow managed to lose anyway. #rookiecloserfail
  • I think we need a Summer League Drinking Game. Therefore, when Brackins finally gets a rebound on Tuesday night, let’s all do a shot! If he gets two, do another one! … Don’t worry, you won’t get that shitcanned. Trust me. (If you’re reading this, rook: prove me wrong! Get us all drunk! Do it!)

On Our Hero Chris Paul, a final word:

We’ve all seen the various media reports and various goings-on of the past couple of weeks. Man, I want to think the best of Chris Paul. I want to continue to see him and Drew Brees as New Orleans’ heroes. I want him to play here for a long time, and I want to make trades this year to get some great players alongside him. But… it is really hard for me to feel the same way about a player if he has one foot out the door. Maybe we’re into “It’s not you, it’s me” territory. Maybe that’s my mental block. I don’t have a problem with putting pressure on our front office… they’ve been pretty conservative, although to be fair, at the moment the salary cap won’t really allow them to be anything but.

NOLA isn’t a place that’s going to take kindly to you, though, if you’re gonna flirt with other cities for two years. I’m also a bit disappointed that CP didn’t choose to distance himself from the shitstorm of a backlash that’s hitting LeBron and his crew right now. I still don’t think we should trade him under any circumstances, as long as there’s a chance to win with him. And I don’t believe he will pull a Baron Davis and pretend to be hurt, or any of that nonsense. As I said, I really, really want to think the best of this guy who’s been so great to New Orleans up to this point. But do I have the same unwavering faith in him that I had a month ago? No. It’s like how you can sometimes sense a breakup coming, so you start picking fights and distancing yourself before it happens. I hope Chris Paul has the ability to step away from his friendship from LeBron James, just for a moment, objectively, and see how some of his friend’s behavior in the last two years was inappropriate and inconsiderate. Not the person, the behavior. They’re not the same thing. (Or are they? Are we who we say we are, or are we our choices? Something to think about.)

Anyway, I hope he continues to be the upstanding person and representative for New Orleans we have known him to be. I would never want to lose that Chris Paul.

He’s a talker, this one. Welcome to New Orleans, Craig! We don’t care if you washed your socks or not. :-)

Hornets 247 has a video of his reaction to being drafted. (I am a sucker for heartwarming draft night videos, oh yes I am. Especially when they cry. Just kidding. Well, maybe not.) More interesting is this story and this one, indicating that Iowa State’s coach — and former T-Wolves exec– Fred Hoiberg knew or guessed at least a half hour in advance he would go to New Orleans. (He wrote “No. 21, N.O.” on a piece of paper after the #16 pick and put it in his pocket.) I wonder if we just liked his workout that much… I know some Hornets fans don’t like this pick, but you really can’t go wrong with two first round prospects for the price of one (not to mention trading Mo Pete’s $6.5M contract). Fun Fact: Brackins wore #21 and was the #21 pick.

Here’s Quincy Pondexter’s post-draft interview. One reporter mentions that there are rumors OKC traded his pick to New Orleans, and he brushes it right off. Guess he was so excited to get drafted he didn’t care where. Haha. Fun Fact: Pondexter’s also responsible for this bit of YouTube hilarity:

I hope both of these kids make the team. They both sound awesome. Oh, and I guess we also hope they’ll play some ball…

Hat tip to @LSUHornet17 for the link to this radio interview on WIST 690 AM by Hornets President Hugh Weber. He addresses Chris Paul and the ownership transfer, and he does it much better than the official statement from George Shinn did yesterday.

I definitely recommend you check it out.

I would listen to it again and transcribe the interesting bits, but I was so annoyed by the chunk in the middle where he blames the Chris Paul rumors on “bloggers in the basement in their pajamas writing at midnight” that I can’t bring myself to. In fact, you can expect a scathing post in response when the draft is over.

Mr. Weber, I went to war for this team yesterday on Twitter. Both At the Hive and Hornets 247 cover your team with a depth of statistical knowledge that vastly, vastly surpasses both the local paper and the mainstream national sports media. Who, by the way, were 100% responsible for the creation and perpetuation of the Chris Paul rumors that, if you bothered to look at all, your local bloggers were savvy enough to scoff at immediately. I know all this “new media” is scary, but we’re not your enemy. And we certainly know your team better than Chad Ford and Bill freaking Simmons.

I’m sorry you don’t know it.

We’re glad to have you with us.

Monty Williams, the new Hornets Head Coach

Monty Williams, the new Hornets Head Coach

Fun fact: I believe the Hornets now have the youngest head coach in the league, since Williams is slightly younger than the Heat’s Erik Spoelstra.

Enough With the Drama

By on June 4, 2010

I’m so over Tom Thibodeaux it’s not even funny. So how come he can’t get over himself? Then we’d all be on the same page here. I’m so over him I took his X away. Yes! I did. You wanna play us, you don’t get no nice Louisiana X from me no more, ya heard?

Seriously. So we make an offer. Then we don’t. Then we do. Then he meets with Chicago in the dead of night. Then he doesn’t. Then he does. Then Jeff Bower gives the man a deadline (which has passed as of today) and leans toward pulling the contract offer and offering the job to Portland assistant Monty Williams.

This is fine with me. That’s the thing about hiring assistants. You don’t really know what you’re getting. But if we don’t know what we’re getting with Williams, let’s not forget we don’t know what we’re getting with Thibodeau either. Neither has been a head coach before. We could strike it rich or strike out. It’s rolling the dice on someone. We were all over Thibodeau because of the defensive scheme he implemented with the Celtics. It would have been nice, especially for a team that played little to no defense this year. But Gregg Popovich apparently saw something in Monty Williams, and that’s not nothing.

I’m glad some national media members have picked up on the drama and seem to be indicating through their tweets (@chrismannixsi and @wojyahoonba particularly) that Jeff Bower’s peers around the league think this is utter B.S. I admit to getting a tad defensive, and really it’s hard not to, because we’re always the bad guy. “The Hornets Arena is empty!” when there are 16,000 people in it. “The Hornets are ruining Chris Paul’s career!” “The Hornets traded for a guy with a bigger contract because they’re CHEAP.” (I’ve never figured that last one out.) It’s nice to see some people saying, “Yo. Stop. This is a dude who’s interviewed for a bazillion head coaching jobs and never been offered one. And now that he’s suddenly popular and in the news, he jerks Bower around.”

This isn’t the Hornets fault. They got their coaching search started early. Why aren’t we blaming Chicago and New Jersey for being the ones who haven’t gotten their shit together to start interviews yet? The longer this gets drawn out, the more the Hornets lose the advantage of having started a long search before everyone but the Sixers. Bower has to be pissed about that. And Thibodeau has to realize that if the Hornets wanted to wait for every candidate to talk to Atlanta and Chicago and New Jersey and Cleveland and their grandmother first, they would have waited till July to start the damn search.

And no, I don’t buy the “It’s the middle of the Finals! It’s sooo mean to set a deadline!” argument. The man went on an interview with his team deep in the playoffs. It was reasonable to expect that that interview might result in a job offer. It’s not like he went to the freakin’ Krispy Kreme and oh look, surprise, there was Jeff Bower offering him donuts and a head coaching job the day before the Finals! He interviewed. This is not about being deep in the playoffs. It’s about wanting to talk to 2 or 3 other teams first. Let’s not pretend it’s not about anything but that.

And see, here’s the thing. The longer this goes on, the more like suckers he makes Bower and Weber and Chouest and whoever look. We are entering a new ownership era and we’re going to have more expiring money to play with this year than we’ve had since, oh, before I started following this team. You need to start this off strong. And more importantly, you need someone who wants to be here. MW was saying that this morning, and he’s right. New Orleans is a unique city. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely not for people who don’t want to be here. Choose to come here, do a genuine good job, get Chris Paul on your side, and it will love you. But to put it bluntly, if you’d rather be in New Jersey, we don’t want you here.

Shit or get off the pot, Mr. Thibodeau. We got other things to do.

To Jeff Bower & Co. Pull the offer today. Call Monty Williams. Please.

Should that even be the question?  How about “to watch the games or not to watch the games?”  Like the Hornets themselves, I’m not originally from New Orleans.  That means, I loved the NBA before I loved the Hornets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the Hornets now and am die-hard, or else I wouldn’t even be here writing this. But my question is, with our team out of the Playoffs, what should our role as Hornets fans be?  I think it’s still to watch the games that remain.

Sure, I really appreciate what atthehive.com and hornets247.com are doing; both blogs are doing great speculative analysis of what the Hornets should do, which coaches they should go after, analyzing what went wrong with this season, and what the team’s needs are for the upcoming draft.  Of course, the media, never failing to miss the point, is focused on manufactured storylines more than actual play, and is too busy crafting headlines like “As Celtics eliminate Cavs, all eyes turn to James.”  Thanks Times Pic.  Listen, let me start with the easy one.  I don’t care about Lebron James.  Seriously.  If he ends up playing with Josh Childress and Linus Kleiza for Olympiakos for $50 a year so he can become a “global icon” and billionaire by 32, sweet.  Seriously. And Nike, what, do you not have a bloody, Steve Nash muppet?

Fuck all that.  This is the time of year when only the best of the best remain, and this year that doesn’t include the Hornets or the Cavs.  So while I’m always one to hype the Hornets, and glad other people are talking about what our team should do, I can’t care too much myself because I’ve been so focused on watching great Playoff basketball.  Hopefully the Hornets are watching too, because it should be making them antsy to know that this is what they want to achieve, and that they have a lot of hard work to do to get there.

Until then folks, enjoy the real final four.  Laissez les bons balles rouler.