Shinn is expected to announce this week an agreement to sell his majority share of the Hornets to partner Gary Chouest, a Louisiana businessman.
Shinn is going to miss the NBA, but the NBA is going to miss Shinn more.
Who would ever think that possible? Who would think that a rascal like Shinn, a thorn in David Stern's side for all kinds of indiscretions, would be good for the league?
But Shinn made things fun. We know that well in OKC.
Shinn didn't bring the NBA to Oklahoma City; Oklahoma City brought the NBA to Oklahoma City. Shinn and his Hornets were floating refugees in September 2005, when this remarkable story started.
But Shinn showed us how much fun pro basketball could be. His Hornets, not always a winner on the court in any of their three homes and not always a winner at the box office in Charlotte or New Orleans, always were an entertainment winner.
Shinn showed Oklahomans that a night in an NBA arena was a night of merriment, no matter the score. From Hugo to the Honeybees to the video-screen antics, the Hornets provided a big bang for the mighty big bucks required of an NBA ticket.
Oklahomans had a fair amount of access to baseball's pastoral charms and the NFL's Roman Coliseum violence. But few of us had spent any appreciable time watching the NBA live.
The competition was good. The entertainment was better. Your 5-year-old, your grandmother, your wife who didn't know the difference between Moochie Norris and Chuck Norris, they all fell for the show and clamored to get to the Ford Center on winter nights.
Shinn, a poor boy made good, is unlike other NBA owners. He's completely unsophisticated. But that blueblood deficiency gives him empathy with the paying customer; he believes in sending the masses home happy.
Game presentation, the NBA calls it, and the Hornets set a high standard that the Thunder had no choice but to match.
Shinn delighted in his two years sitting courtside at the Ford Center and reveling in his dumb luck of finding another Charlotte, where his early Hornets were the toast of the league for their packed crowds and unbridled enthusiasm.
Shinn was a hoot. He talked to the downtown Rotary Club and told these ultrasuccessful oil men and lawyers and financiers that if they worked hard, they too could realize their dreams. He told us to, dadgumit, quit waiting for someone to tell us were big-league and just start acting like it.
Shinn wanted to stay. In the summer between the Hornets' two OKC seasons, Bennett and partners bought the Seattle SuperSonics, and I asked Shinn if that meant the Sonics eventually were headed to Oklahoma.
No, Shinn said. He didn't think the city could support two teams.
But with Oklahoma City's powerbrokers invested in another franchise, plus the political pressure of working to rebuild New Orleans, Shinn soon realized the Oklahoma City Hornets were going to be a dream unrealized, and soon enough he was gone.
But Shinn is not forgotten, not in Oklahoma City, and he shouldn't be in New Orleans, either, where even in the early days of the OKC relocation Shinn kept a positive presence. While the NFL's Saints seemed to disconnect completely from New Orleans in the weeks and months after Katrina, Shinn kept the ties. The Hornets went back early and often.
I never thought Shinn would sell. Bennett tried to buy the Hornets, and Shinn was interested. He went all the way to a 49 percent share. But Shinn never could bring himself to go to 51. Never could let go of the franchise he birthed back in the 1980s in Charlotte.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Shinn's battle with cancer has made him rethink his life, that his passion for this basketball business has waned and he's finally ready to let go.
I wish him well. Oklahoma City should, too. Shinn showed us how much fun the NBA could be.
Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.