HoopsHype Tom Benson rumors


April 17, 2012 Updates

With new Hornets owner Tom Benson saying he might rename the team, there’s been more speculation about whether the Bobcats would be interested in acquiring the Hornets nickname. Bobcats management can’t comment on that. But sources familiar with NBA procedure say it would take a minimum of two years from the time a team requested a name change until there actually was a change. That’s in part about giving uniform-supplier Adidas time to adjust to new logos and looks. Charlotte Observer

April 16, 2012 Updates

Arash Markazi: The @NBA officially announced that New Orleans will host the 2014 NBA All-Star Game. Twitter

When NBA Commissioner David Stern introduces New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson at a 2 p.m. press conference day, Stern will also announce that the league has awarded the 2014 All-Star Game to the city, a source confirmed Monday morning. New Orleans Times-Picayune

The NBA is awarding New Orleans the 2014 All-Star game, now that Tom Benson has agreed to buy the Hornets and sign a lease extension at New Orleans Arena, a person familiar with the decision said. ESPN.com

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press on Monday because an announcement by NBA Commissioner David Stern was scheduled for the afternoon. Stern had already pledged that New Orleans would get an All-Star game once a new owner and lease extension were in place, and because of potential conflicts with Mardi Gras, awarding the game in 2014 made the most sense, the person who spoke to the AP said. ESPN.com

The 2013 game will be played in Houston, and Mardi Gras falls on March 4 in 2014, well after the usual mid-February date for NBA All-Star weekend. Mardi Gras falls in mid-February in 2015 and 2016, so if the NBA had given the 2014 event to New York, as some predicted, it would not make sense to hold the game in New Orleans again until 2017. By then, Benson would be 89 years old. Stern was in New Orleans on Monday to introduce the New Orleans Saints owner as the new Hornets owner. The two announced an agreement Friday for Benson to take over the Hornets, who have often been on shaky ground since arriving in the Big Easy in 2002. ESPN.com

The New Orleans Hornets announced Sunday night that new owner Tom Benson will be formally introduced on Monday afternoon in a news conference at New Orleans Arena. NBA Commissioner David Stern is expected to attend, along with Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Benson purchased the Hornets for $338 million, assuring the franchise's long-term future in New Orleans. Benson attended the Hornets’ game Sunday night against the Memphis Grizzlies with his wife, Gayle. New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 15, 2012 Updates

So what are the goals of the NBA’s newest owner? What did you expect. “To win championships,’’ said Benson. “To put sellout crowds of 19,000 in the arena. To make basketball fans out of some of the 70,200 Saints season-ticket holders. We’ve got a great opportunity. New Orleans showed what a great small-market city it is when it comes to sports. Now we’ve got to keep proving it. Just watch. The success of our football team will help our basketball team build corporate sponsorships. Sky’s the limit. I’m in. Big-time.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

Suddenly, as fate decreed, Tom Benson saw his basketball roots blossom. On Friday, he listened to NBA Commissioner David Stern call him “the perfect owner’’ for a basketball team “in one of the country’s treasured cities, whose commitment to New Orleans is unrivaled.’’ “I got involved a month ago,’’ said Benson, “and let me tell you, it has been some frantic ride. I talked to my wife, I talked to the archbishop, I talked to the governor. Everyone was going crazy. When I was on the phone with Governor Jindal, telling him what I was going to do, I thought he was coming through the phone to kiss me.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

You listen to Benson talk about Stern, and you realize why the two are some sort of kindred spirits. One reason is there’s a lot of “commissioner’’ in Benson. He’s not exactly a “committee’’ guy. He likes calling the shots, making the big decisions as a committee of one. While Stern was giving his blessing to Benson last week in New York, he was also telling the owners of the Sacramento Kings that the franchise would not be guaranteed a home in Sacramento after 2014 if they did not get their act together in building a new arena. New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 14, 2012 Updates

Tom Benson’s purchase of the Hornets on Friday brought stability to the team’s future in New Orleans. It also has brought steadiness to the bench and front office. According to a league source, Benson plans to keep Monty Williams as coach and Dell Demps as general manager, both of whom were hired in 2010. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Williams, who has yet to meet with his new boss, said the settlement of the ownership issue brings ease to a franchise that seemed to be teetering since the NBA took the unprecedented step of purchasing it from George Shinn and Gary Chouest in December 2010. “I think when you have somebody like Mr. Benson, I think it makes it a ton easier because you have stability and you have foundation and you have a bit of an umbrella that comforts you from some of the storms when you don’t have an owner,’’ Williams said. “So I think it can only be good for me as a coach, our players and especially our city, and that fans can totally commit to our city.’’ New Orleans Times-Picayune

April 13, 2012 Updates

Benson, who initially bid to purchase the team in January but was put off by the league's asking price, said Friday he was worried that other absentee ownership groups might attempt to move the team out of the city, despite a new lease agreement that will bind the Hornets to New Orleans Arena through the 2024 season. One of the bidding groups, headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal, included Benson's youngest brother, Larry, a San Antonio automobile dealer. New Orleans Times-Picayune

One of the bidding groups, headed by California swimwear manufacturer Raj Bhathal, included Benson's youngest brother, Larry, a San Antonio automobile dealer. I told Larry I was a little bit concerned, even though he said he wasn't going to do it, the first downturn he'd be looking to go to California or some place," Benson said in his suite at the St. Regis Hotel where the meeting took place. "That wasn't very good. "We really never stopped talking to them (the NBA). With out of state owners. . . . I called David (Stern, NBA commissioner) and said, 'Look I'm the only guy you can count on who's really going to stay here. Let's work this thing out.' " New Orleans Times-Picayune

Benson said he is also trying to change the name of the NBA team to better fit the ambience, culture and charm of New Orleans. "We need to find a name like (Jazz)," Benson said, referring to New Orleans first NBA team that relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979. "Whether we can get that or let us use that, you've got to know we're working on it. We'd like to change it tomorrow. We have not gotten that approved, but we're not letting up on it, either. Because we've got a good relationship with the commissioner and his people and we're going to be on them daily to do something." New Orleans Times-Picayune

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