New Orleans Hornets owner George Shinn views tonight’s game between his franchise and the Oklahoma City Thunder as a celebration of two success stories. Oklahoma City, he says, kept his franchise afloat through two difficult years following Hurricane Katrina. And in the process, the city proved it could support a major-league franchise, leading to the arrival of the Thunder.
In a Q&A with The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry, Shinn discusses his early impressions of the Thunder, how the Hornets are progressing in post-Katrina New Orleans and whether he’ll ever allow star guard Chris Paul to return to Oklahoma City. Q: Will you be in attendance tonight? A: There’s a possibility I might. I picked up a bug Sunday, and Monday I just felt terrible. I might just fly in for the game on my plane and then fly right back as soon as the game’s over. Q: Will you watch on television if you don’t come, and what will your emotions be during the game? A: Absolutely. I think it will be pride. I just look at this game as a celebration of two success stories. One success story is very obvious. But we think that our efforts are really the reason that Oklahoma City has an NBA team now. So we take a lot of pride in that. But we also have to salute Oklahoma City again because of the two years we were there they kept us afloat and gave us the opportunity to come back to New Orleans and to be involved in revitalizing this city and being a major part in helping this city recover. We just feel real good about it. We just think it’s a celebration of not only Oklahoma City but also of New Orleans. Q: How much have you followed what this new franchise is doing, and what are your impressions on the franchise’s early start? A: I understand the early start with the wins and losses. I’ve been there. I understand what the situation is. The whole situation is so new to them. It’s going to take some time.