Celebrating rebirth of a different kind

For the second time in a decade,  the city of New Orleans is once again home to the NBA All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday night at the Smoothie King Center.

Unlike the 2008 affair, which was all about celebrating the rebirth of the city, the 63rd annual game is more about the rebirth of a different kind in New Orleans.

When the NBA seized control of the then-Hornets, many assumed that David Stern was overstepping his boundaries as commissioner.

And while at the time it seemed that was what Stern was doing, overstepping his boundaries,  looking back on it, the former commissioner was saving the team from George Shinin.

Although there was moderate success during the Shinn years, the problem with Shinn in New Orleans was his lack of deep pockets and more importantly, the blatant mismanagement of the team.

Which if you follow the tea leaves, is something that the franchise is still paying for in 2014.

George Shinn, who as Drake would say, started from the bottom, was as trusting as the recently-convicted Ray Nagin.

He made people think that he stepped in saved basketball for New Orleans after Katrina, going as far as grabbing a microphone during a playoff game and spitting out lie after lie to a packed New Orleans Arena.

When in actuality, as area sports pundit Bryan Bienemy told me on Tuesday, Shinn tried to keep the team in Oklahoma after Katrina.

“David Stern’s greatest moment as commissioner,” he told me, “was seizing control of the team from George Shinn.”

Three years after a near-trip to the Western Conference Finals, Shinn tried to once again move the franchise and in the process, attempt to make New Orleans the first American city to lose two NBA teams.

“The people of New Orleans deserved better,” Bienemy said of Shinn.

Nowadays, with Tom Benson running the show on Girod Street (yes, the street that housed the infamous cemetery years ago), New Orleans’ second All-Star Game is once again celebrating rebirth.

This time, it’s the rebirth of a franchise.

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