Did anyone catch NBA Commissioner David Stern’s remarks to the New Orleans Times-Picayune? He proudly announced that the Hornets are very close to having a new team owner with a sweet deal “that will have a very favorable lease, important capital improvements, intense tax benefits and a new TV deal to boot.’’ First of all, I love how he describes the tax benefits as “intense.” Second, has anyone bothered to think about what any of that means? Sorry to go all Dave Zirin on you, but check this out:
- A “favorable lease” translates to “cheap/zero rent,” which is crucial, because guess who owns New Orleans Arena? The state of Louisiana. No revenue for you, LA, except whatever you can get out of concerts and the occasional crawfish convention. (But I’m sure that will be more than enough to recoup the $100+ million you charged taxpayers to build the place)
- “Important capital improvements” implies that somebody other than the team owner, such as the owners of New Orleans Arena (which is who again?) will be borrowing/taxing to pay for more luxury boxes for the ultra-wealthy so that they don’t have to mix with the plebeians (a.k.a., the ones paying the taxes).
- “Intense tax benefits” means “intense tax benefits.”
So congratulations, Louisiana, you’re about to go even further in debt for the privilege of making some plutocrat even wealthier than he already is! I don’t know why I’m upset over this—I mean, it’s not like New Orleans has any infrastructure needs or anything! Well, other than the Lower 9th Ward, which apparently is in danger of turning into Cambodia circa-1975. The few remaining citizens are afraid to go outside because they might get attacked—not by drug dealers or rapists, by wild animals. But who cares when you’ve got the 2012-2013 Hornets: Catch the Buzz!
I’m probably just stalling to avoid talking about an even more depressing topic: the Bobcats. Like the Stop the Violence Movement, the Bobcats are headed for self-destruction. Each of the last two games was unbearable to watch in its own special way. Against the Raptors, you had two lost teams going nowhere. Toronto’s fans, perhaps lulled to sleep by their country’s sound banking system and universal health care, were abnormally quiet until the last minute, when the Raptors’ ended their inexplicable 6-game losing streak to the Cats.
The following night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks was an entirely different story. The game itself was a disaster almost immediately; the Bobcats were out of the picture faster than Christina Hendricks in Drive. Then, throughout the foregone conclusion of a blowout loss, television audiences had to suffer the twin terrors of 1) the Atlanta arena’s relentless organ, and 2) color commentator Dominique Wilkins’ relenting comments. I know most people hate the constant music that arenas blare, but I would argue that it’s even worse when it’s not the original music, but just organ Muzak of popular songs. And that’s all Philips Arena plays—do they not own the licenses to anything? (I just hope Angus Young never hears the Muzak version of “Back in Black” because he’d probably pee his schoolboy shorts.) Meanwhile, it’s one of the great ironies that Wilkins, nicknamed the “Human Highlight Reel” as a player, is actually incredibly boring as a highlight reel commentator. It’s not that he’s a jerk or anything; he just barely speaks at all—it’s often just one banal sentence after a play, leaving tons of dead space…which is then filled up by the soundtrack to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. So the game was basically 150 minutes of the following:
- Kemba Walker botches a pick-and-roll with Bismack Biyombo leading to a Bobcats turnover
- Dominique Wilkins: “When you don’t have good pick-and-roll bigs, it really makes it hard to run a pick-and-roll.”
- (Organ: Muzak version of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”)
- Jeff Teague recovers the turnover, starts a fast break, and feeds Josh Smith an uncontested alley-oop
- Dominique Wilkins: “I’ll tell you, the Hawks love getting those fast breaks; they really, really do. Especially when they end like that.”
- (Organ: Muzak version of the Black-Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”)
With every loss I feel that a canon should sound, like each time one of the children dies in The Hunger Games; it means we’re that much closer to being the all-time losing-est team. Am I the only the only one who’s bothered by this? C’mon, Bobcats!! I don’t want to spend the rest of my life popping a bottle of champagne each year when the last team gets its eighth win.