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Doug Loudenback
11-24-2005, 10:23 PM
Here's another article, this one from the Seattle News Tribune at

Oklahoma City embraces displaced Hornets

News Tribune news services
Published: November 23rd, 2005 02:30 AM

Fueling a vibrant renaissance of a downtown rocked by the federal building bombing that claimed 168 lives in 1995, Oklahoma City, almost overnight, has stamped itself as a red-hot big league sports property with its rousing embrace of the New Orleans Hornets.

Love at first dribble. That’s one way to explain Oklahoma City’s instant attachment to a team displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Another is the kinship born out of shared tragedies.

“We can identify with New Orleans, big time,” says Oklahoma City native Mike Wilson, 55.

Mayor Mick Cornett agrees. “It made us more sensitive to what they were going through. One (tragedy) was man-made, the other wasn’t. But both cities probably went through a ‘why us?’ that’s tough to come out of.”

The Hornets sold 10,000 season tickets after the move was announced. After five games of 35 set for NBA-ready Ford Center, the team is playing to 97 percent of its 19,163-seat capacity – and playing off the crowd with a surprising 4-6 start entering tonight’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“They’ve made us feel at home,” says center P.J. Brown, whose flooded home in Slidell, La., sent his family to live in Humble, Texas, outside Houston. “There’s energy throughout the whole city.”

The major league sports-starved locals have so taken to the young Hornets, who were 18-64 and averaged a league-low 14,221 last season in New Orleans Arena, that coach Byron Scott marveled at the cheers his team heard coming off the court – after a loss.

“It was because of our effort,” he says. “The people have been fantastic.”