In the words of the late author and humorist Sam Levenson: "It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it." Oh, if Hornets owner George Shinn had that ability.
Shinn and his Hornets have been in town for exactly 10 months last Friday. Seems like much longer with the way Shinn's motor mouth has managed to stir controversy with seemingly every other public statement. Give Shinn some credit, though. Truth is, he's made the best of the awful hand in which Mother Nature dealt him. There was no blueprint for how to correctly pander to two markets when Hurricane Katrina forced his franchise to temporarily move here from New Orleans. Took Shinn all of 10 months, though, to single-handedly build a perfect list of dos and don'ts. Listen up, Clay Bennett and Co., over at home grown Professional Basketball Club LLC. For months, you all have tried to get on board with Shinn as joint owners of the Hornets. That attempt went for naught. But by agreeing to purchase the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics and WNBA's Storm last week, you're suddenly finding yourselves stuck in Shinn's same ship. And chances are much greater of that ship turning into the Titanic rather than Queen Elizabeth 2 while cruising between Seattle and Oklahoma City. Consider this Shinn's unofficial, "If-I-could-do-it-over-again" list to help you all embark on your expedition into the NBA world. Do: Pour your heart and soul into your franchise. It's OK to get lost in emotion when it comes to your team. Fans generally don't vilify passionate owners. Don't: Show that you're willing to turn your back and sell out on the loyal fans and gracious city that's supporting you at the first sign of a better deal coming along. Attendance plummets and leverage evaporates in future negotiations with that host city. Do: Publicly announce which city your team will call home in the immediate future. This is where it gets tricky. Media types will ask the same question over and over. The key is to answer the question clearly and precisely. Leave no wiggle room for mixed interpretations or debate for skeptics. Don't: Privately contradict yourself by informing certain groups that you prefer to remain in the opposite city from which you're publicly assuring fans the team will be based.
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