OKC took their show on the road to LA on Tuesday and savored that familiar taste of defeat. Kobe had 34 points and seven rebounds to lead the Lakers past the Blunder, 105-98. The Blunder's athleticism kept them competitive, yet their offense continues to revolve around perimeter shooting. No inside presence is just not going to get it done in this league. This is a team that has made strides this season after starting out as a total embarrassment to the league. The former Supersonics are still one of the worst teams in the league, but are showing improvement.
Future ex-Blunder Kevin Durant led OKC with 31 points and 10 rebounds but also had five turnovers. Nick Collison has two points in 20 minutes, Kyle Weaver went 1-7 from three-point range and both had four fouls to lead the Blunder low-lights.
The Lakers extended their win streak to seven games.
Blunder: 13-39, last place.
Next loss: Wednesday vs. Portland
More corndogs! More losses! More Blunder!
Problems in the Crescent City? More Hornets Rumors swirling.
According to the Associated Press - an executive with the group that oversees the Louisiana Superdome and the New Orleans Arena advised lawmakers that the state must find $27.5 million next year to fulfill contracts that keep the Saints and Hornets in New Orleans. The state pays the two teams cash payments each year to retain the clubs. The subsidies are needed to make operating in the relatively small New Orleans market worthwhile, according to the team’s owners.
The money comes from the budget of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, (LSED) which operates the Superdome and the arena where Hornets play. Doug Thornton, senior vice president of SMG -- the company that manages the Superdome and the Arena -- said the LSED won't bring in nearly enough for the fiscal year starting July 1 to cover the expected payments. Does this mean the teams are getting ready to leave New Orleans? Hard to say.
Certainly New Orleans will be a sentimental favorite from the wrath of Katrina. Sympathy will fall on them and any potential movement of their franchises could easily come under the 'insensitive' scrutiny. However, fiscally, times are tough all over and at some point, pro sports franchises that rely on subsidies are going to have to face the reality that in dire economic times, more guns = less butter. States are forced to choose between sports subsidies and street repairs and school funding. The teams indeed contribute fiscally to the local economy through sales tax, and patronage to area restaurants, etc.
Of course these could be stories planted in an attempt to force the state to engage and dig up the money. It could also stir up support for a new ownership group to emerge in an effort to buy the team and move to a stronger, proven market - like Seattle, who just lost their beloved Sonics after 41 years. Ballmer's group will be the carrot on the stick, or the stick, depending on which side you are on. With the potential of another ownership group looming, the pressure will mount on the state to come up with funds 'or else'.
What about the Saints? Rumors swirl about the Saints moving to Los Angeles, where plenty of businessmen are trying to work out a stadium deal. The problem with the LA market is apathy. USC and UCLA sate LA's football needs. No matter how many businessmen crunch the numbers and try to force a team into LA, it simply won't change the fundamental problem in LA: an apathetic fan base. If LA demanded an NFL team, it would be here. There is just no demand. Pro football in LA's main support group are businessmen looking to exploit the media market while ignoring the realities of an indifferent fan base. It's the quintessential problem facing sports; ignoring the wants and needs of the fans - the ones who actually pay the tab. When that fails they will naturally expect handouts from the local government.
And again the tail wags the dog...