It was all good just two months ago. Byron Scott, Wake Forest basketball head coach Dino Gaudio and a host of Chris Paul’s loved ones were gathered at a Winston-Salem bowling alley for CP3’s Family & Friends Night on the lanes. Scott was full of energy. He had his beer, bowling shoes and the biggest grin on his face. Little else mattered in the world.
But then the 2009-10 NBA season started for the New Orleans Hornets. Any grin he had earlier in the fall was immediately replaced by grief after his team’s opening night gutter ball and 1-3 start. A win over Dallas was nice for the 2008 Coach of the Year, but subsequent defeats began to take their toll on the front office.
Six failures by an average of 14 points will make even the most optimistic reveler in the Crescent City nervous. Add that fact with the still-stinging memory of last year’s opening-round postseason embarrassment. Let’s not even get on the Hornets’ despicable 121-63 smashing from the Denver Nuggets in Game 4—and it makes sense that owner George Shinn would want a change.
From the season’s opening tip, the media’s kept an eye on Paul. Yeah, the sports world marveled at his speed and nightly double-doubles, but mostly cameras focused on his running frustrations. Still, to say he instigated Scott’s firing would be silly and a tad irresponsible. Their relationship, on the court and at the bowling alley, appeared genuinely solid.
There’s no way the 24-year-old superstar will find solace in Scott’s exit. Nor will he find much consolation in the arrival of interim coach Jeff Bower and top assistant Tim Floyd. We’re sure they’re great guys and all, but with all due respect to management, CP3 and teammates David West and Emeka Okafor need help scoring not scolding from the sidelines. Had the new coaches brought in a lethal wingman with them, we’d probably have a different story.
However, if there is one piece of good to come from this New Orleans news breaker, it’s that the Hornets franchise isn’t going to let this season fall flat without first putting up a fight. It doesn’t matter if you consider Byron Scott’s firing a strike or a 7-10 split, you are most certainly bowled over by a move just two weeks into the NBA campaign.