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It is obvious that the New Orleans Hornets have not a pain-free or smooth existence as a franchise. As a franchise, its journey has been one of the rockiest in sports.
Among those bumps, being turned over to the NBA has to be one of the lowlights. George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans in 2002 in hopes that the move would revitalize a franchise struggling with its image in Charlotte (primarily because of Shinn).
What he, and let's be fair the NBA as well, forgot was that there is a smaller television market in New Orleans, and New Orleans had already failed as a basketball city once before.
With the team's move to Oklahoma City for two seasons and a devastated economy in New Orleans, the team lacked financial resources, no matter how well the team played.
The result was that Shinn could no longer hold onto the team, but because David Stern was stubbornly committed (in this case a good thing) to keeping the team in New Orleans long-term, the NBA stepped in and for the first time took ownership properties of the franchise.
It was not the first time that a league had done this though. Major League Baseball stepped in to take over the Montreal Expos before they moved to Washington, D.C., and the NHL briefly took over the Phoenix Coyotes franchise as well.
In no such case was a conflict of interest avoided. Clearly the Hornets' situation brought about the most uproar, though, when the team had a perfectly good trade lined up with the Lakers last offseason to send Chris Paul to Los Angeles in exchange for Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic from Houston.
Stern vetoed the trade for "basketball reasons," and the joke lives on to this day.
Thankfully Saints owner Tom Benson stepped in this past April to buy the team and save the team from any further embarrassment.