The last time the city of New Orleans hosted the NBA All-Star Game in 2008, it showed the rest of the country that New Orleans was ready to re-emerge after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
When the All-Star Game returns, it will re-introduce the New Orleans Hornets as a competitive, up-and-coming basketball franchise.
New Orleans has played host to this year’s BCS Championship and NCAA Final Four, and will host the Super Bowl in 2013 before welcoming fans for NBA All-Star Weekend in 2014.
Said new owner Tom Benson, “The city of New Orleans is the place to be. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact will be generated for our region in these back-to-back February events. We could not be more pleased.”
Correction: The city of New Orleans can be more pleased if they are treated to seeing some of their very own Hornets taking part in the All-Star activities, and there is every reason to believe that this will be the case.
Eric Gordon is already establishing himself as a 20-plus PPG scorer, and he is just 23 years old. In two years’ time, Gordon will garner much All-Star attention and could earn a spot on the roster as a reserve.
As a restricted free agent and the centerpiece of the deal that sent Chris Paul to the LA Clippers, it would be a shock if the Hornets do not retain Gordon’s services for the long term and make sure that if he makes the All-Star team, he will represent the city of New Orleans.
Benson, after all, is a shrewd businessman with a proven ability to shepherd sports franchises. He recognizes that Gordon is his best asset, and someone that the franchise must build around.
In addition to Gordon, the Hornets’ two upcoming lottery picks will both be in their second year of play in 2014.
Without delving too deeply into who the Hornets might get because the actual position of their picks is not locked in, it would not be hard to imagine that the Hornets end up with a SF (such as Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or Kansas’ Thomas Robinson with their first selection), and UNC PG Kendall Marshall with their second.
Considering the expectations placed on lottery picks—especially high picks—the Hornets should believe that their young players will develop and earn spots in the Rising Stars Challenge featuring first- and second-year players.
If they far exceed expectations with a breakout year in either of their first two seasons (a la Blake Griffin in 2010-2011), the young players could even get voted into the All-Star Game by fans.
The Hornets are well situated to make their rebuilding campaign a short one. If they can populate the All-Star Weekend with a number of their own rising stars, the economic boon that New Orleans gets through hosting major events will be steadily supplemented by the growing interest in a competitive, young and exciting New Orleans Hornets franchise.
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