Saturday 30th September 2023,
The Hoop Doctors

Hurricane Bertha reminder of the Hornets inspiration of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Bertha, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Hornets, Inspiration

July 7th, 2008 – Dr. J-Water

As I was reading the news this morning of the first Hurricane of 2008 (Hurricane Bertha) brewing and nearing land in the Caribbean Islands of St. Martin and St. Kitts, I couldn’t help but start thinking once again about how quickly the New Orleans Hornets have risen from NBA mediocrity to rejuvenate a city that was decimated by Hurricane Katrina. In the 2004-05 season the New Orleans Hornets had a record of only 18-64. Then in August of 2005 after such a terrible NBA season for the city of New Orleans, the game of basketball was put into perspective as just that, a game, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans flooding the city and killing almost 2000 people in its wake.

We have all been watching as the relief efforts have completed, and the rebuilding of New Orleans has begun. The rebuilding project has already taken giant leaps, and the NBA as a league did its part in holding the 2008 NBA All-star Game in New Orleans to bring NBA fans and sponsors to the city. Volunteers and donors from across the globe are all doing their part in helping to rebuild the city. During one of the most action-packed NBA seasons in recent memory for me, I think the biggest story has to be the rebuilding of the New Orleans Hornets team, amidst the rebuilding of their home town, under the guidance of Head Coach Byron Scott and all-star point guard Chris Paul. The team has transformed into one of the leagues most dominant teams.

It all started with the drafting of the bright young point guard Chris Paul in 2005. Then after his successful rookie campaign winning the rookie of the year award in 2005-06, the Hornets made some very savvy transactions. They traded JR Smith and PJ Brown to the Chicago Bulls for the young athletic Center Tyson Chandler. Everyone knew Chandler was a great shot blocker with tremendous upside, but what no one then realized was the chemistry that would develop between Paul and Chandler on the court. This season Chandler and Paul connected for more successful alley-oop finishes than any other duo in the entire NBA. When watching them it’s like they have played together since childhood. They seemingly know each other’s game inside and out. Then they signed Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo to back-up Paul and even play the shooting guard spot when they go small. Although the team’s future foundation seemed set, the Hornets recognized the team was young and lacked experience so they signed free agent shooting star Peja Stojakovic from the Indiana Pacers.

The expectations were high following these transactions; however a series of injuries to key players including Paul, Stojakovic, and Jackson led to another disappointing season in Oklahoma City with a record of 39-43. The Hornets returned home to the Big Easy ready to show off their team’s rebuild, and do their small part in inspiring the people of New Orleans who were in the midst of a rebuilding project themselves. The Hornets came out of the gates hot in 2007 and continued winning throughout the entire season as one of the most consistent teams in the league. David West emerged as a legitimate scoring threat and made his first ever all-star game appearance, Chris Paul showed experience and focus that a 3rd year guard just isn’t supposed to have (eventually finishing 2nd in league MVP voting to Kobe Bryant), and Byron Scott somehow kept the pressure off his inexperienced team as they were increasingly being touted as the inspiration to the City of New Orleans still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The Hornets finished the regular season with the second best record, at 56-26 in the tough Western Conference, just one game shy of the Lakers for the number one spot. That’s a far cry from the horrible 18-64 posting they put up in 2005, after which the Hornets needed a significant rebuilding plan. The Hornets front office did a magnificent job in rebuilding the team in a span of just two years.

Although the Hornets were eventually knocked out of the post-season by the defending champion San Antonio Spurs this year, the series did go 7 full games with the Spurs having to claw their way past New Orleans who wouldn’t give them an inch. Hopes are high for the Hornets in New Orleans, as the team has announced that they already have added 5000 season ticket holders since the end of the season. That in itself shows the rebuilding of both the Hornets franchise, and the City of New Orleans is a success thus far. Although there is still a lot of work to do in the City, but the same goes for the NBA team that is inspiring them.

New Orleans Hornets 2009 NBA Champions? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Like this Article? Share it!