NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ The NBA's executive vice president says that making the Hornets profitable in a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans will be tough, but that the league will do whatever it takes to help the team succeed.
Joel Litvin and other NBA officials had a 90-minute meeting yesterday with representatives of the Hornets, the city of New Orleans and the state to begin outlining a sales and marketing strategy for the team's six games there next season and their full-time return for the following season.
The Hornets spent last season in Oklahoma City and will play 35 games there next season while New Orleans continues to recover. The Hornets were last in the NBA in attendance during the 2004-05 season in New Orleans but 11th last season. New Orleans' population, more than 400-thousand before Katrina, now is estimated to be half of that.
Hornets owner George Shinn has been lukewarm about returning to New Orleans, but NBA Commissioner David Stern has repeatedly stated that the league will honor the Hornets' lease, which runs through 2012, and the league recently awarded its 2008 All-Star Game to New Orleans.