Tom Benson Rumors
Rita LeBlanc once expected to spend many years running the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, which would have made her one of the most powerful women in pro sports. This week, the disowned granddaughter has spent many hours on a witness stand, trying to persuade a judge that her 87-year-old grandfather, Tom Benson, was not of sound mind when he ousted her, her mother and her brother from ownership positions with his NFL and NBA clubs, and changed his succession plan to place his third wife in line to control his business empire.
But league sources pointed out Tuesday that the people whose names were on the press release may not be the ones making the decision. Former Pistons executive Joe Dumars, a Louisiana native, has been providing input with the team and has a close relationship with Loomis and owner Tom Benson.
The announcement of Williams’ firing was made via press release in which executive vice president Mickey Loomis and GM Dell Demps expressed nothing but praise for Williams, who’d become not only popular in the locker room but also influential in the league as a member of the competition committee and, like Thibodeau, an assistant with Team USA. But league sources pointed out Tuesday that the people whose names were on the press release may not be the ones making the decision. Former Pistons executive Joe Dumars, a Louisiana native, has been providing input with the team and has a close relationship with Loomis and owner Tom Benson.
New Orleans is the third franchise to emerge with a head coaching opening, including Denver and Orlando. The presence of Davis makes the Pelicans the most appealing to prospective candidates. Two weeks ago, New Orleans owner Tom Benson wrote a public letter of congratulations and support for Williams, his coaching staff and the team. “I am very excited about the future of our Pelicans and you have my word and my resolve to bring everything to bear to win,” Benson wrote.
“I have the utmost respect for Monty Williams, not only as a coach but as a person,” said Pelicans Owner Tom Benson. “He represented our team, our organization and our city with tremendous class and dignity. Gayle and I grew very fond of Monty and his wife Ingrid and of course their five beautiful children. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.” The Pelicans finished the 2014-15 season with a record of 45-37 and the eighth position in the Western Conference, earning New Orleans its first postseason berth in four seasons. “Making a decision like this is never easy and is never done hastily, especially when you are dealing with a person of Monty Williams’ character. We thanked Monty for the tremendous work and commitment he made to our organization and the development of our young players, specifically Anthony Davis,” said Loomis. “While we continue to work towards improving our roster, we decided that now was the time to make this decision. We wish nothing but the best for Monty in the future.”
Williams has a year remaining on his contract and though management has yet to offer him an extension, Pelicans owner Tom Benson sent a letter of congratulations last week for the team’s winning season and playoff appearance. ”He’s a great coach, the whole team loves him, the organization loves him,” Davis said. ”I don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s none of my business.But he’s done a lot for this organization since he’s been here. He takes so much heat and really doesn’t let it bother him. He makes sure that he stays focus on his goal, which is the team.”
“Our fans were truly galvanized by your dedication. Our theme this years was to Take Flight. I an confident that we have begun to take flight as a team. We now must turn our attention to getting better and coming back for the 1015-16 season with an even stronger resolve. I am very excited about the future of our Pelicans and you have my word and my resolve to bring everything to bear to win. New Orleans deserves an NBA Championship and we have the foundation, facilities and fans to make this a reality. Sincerely, Tom Benson, Owner.”
New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson on Tuesday sent a letter of congratulations to coach Monty Williams and his staff and players, along with general manager Dell Demps and his staff for the team’s winning season and playoff appearance. The letter reads as follows: “Dear Monty, Dell and all of the Pelicans Coaches and Players: I wanted to thank each and everyone of you for a job well done this past season. We made the playoffs in a very strong finish at the end of the season. That is a tribute to your hard work and determination. You were able to overcome the adversities that face every team, but it was the way you all came together as a team that made us all very proud.
A judge ruled Tuesday that Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson must undergo a psychiatric examination. The decision came as Benson’s daughter and her children fare fighting to have the 87-year-old declared incapable of handling his affairs.
The lawsuit seeking to block the succession change was filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court at mid-day Thursday and assigned to Judge Kern Reese. It presents numerous claims that Benson is mentally and physically unfit to manage his personal or business affairs. Renee, Rita and Ryan LeBlanc, are named as petitioners in the suit, which claims the 87-year-old Benson’s declining health is much worse than publicly known and has rendered him unfit to manage his personal affairs or the business of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. The suit attempts to paint Gayle Benson, 67, as a gold-digging opportunist who has taken advantage of her husband’s unfit state of health and ostracized family members in grasping for power and riches.
The shocking struggle for control of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans escalated Thursday (Jan. 23) as family members associated with Rita Benson LeBlanc filed a lawsuit claiming that the teams’ owner and family patriarch Tom Benson is incompetent and is being directed by a manipulative wife and her allies at the highest level of the sports empire. The suit was filed one day after Tom Benson unexpectedly announced plans to transfer future ownership of the clubs to wife, Gayle, cutting off his daughter, Renee LeBlanc, and his two grandchildren, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, who until recently had been designated as the heir apparent.
Tom Benson, who owns the NFL’s Saints and NBA’s Pelicans, has agreed to a succession plan that will give his wife, Gayle, control of New Orleans’ major professional sports franchises after his death. In a statement provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday night, the 87-year-old Benson says his decision is meant to ensure the clubs’ “long-term stability and success,” and is about “the legacy of these two teams and everything we have done for the good of the city of New Orleans and our region.”
New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson was sidelined during the draft because of a knee injury. But he’s expected to be back on the field in time to present New Orleans’ 2018 Super Bowl bid next week at the NFL owners’ meetings in Atlanta. Benson, 86, underwent a 45-minute procedure to repair a torn medial meniscus in his left knee on Friday, according to the Saints. He was home later in the day and continued to monitor the Saints’ draft by phone. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton called him before each pick.
Shaquille O’ Neal likes New Orleans Pelicans owner Tom Benson, but he doesn’t care much for the franchise’s new nickname. Here is O’Neal uncut: “It’s a terrible name. I told Charles on TNT, I don’t think I’ve seen a Pelican before. Pelicans, are they that big white bird? I would had named them Tigers, Crawfish or something. Pelicans — no. But I wish them well. I’ll be anxious to see how many jerseys they sell. Hopefully one day they’ll get some marquee players and fill the arena up because it’s a town that wants to support something good. Louisiana, in general, if you give them a good product, they’ll get in their RVs and drive and they will support you. Hopefully, one day we’ll get two or three good players that people would want to spend their money on. “
Team owner Tom Benson and his granddaughter Rita Benson Leblanc told reporters Tuesday afternoon that building a championship team meant building a top-notch practice facility. It would be hard to imagine any other team’s facility could be better than the one revealed Tuesday. According to Pelicans execs, the team spent $15 million on the new practice facility. It has a fingerprint scanner at the door to give players 24 hour access as well as a barber chair in the team’s locker room.
In conjunction with the historic decision to return to its popular local nickname, the Charlotte franchise is making a donation to the Pelicans Gulf Coast Preservation Fund. “We are very pleased to transition the Hornets name to Charlotte, where the name has a unique fit and meaning to their fans, much like Pelicans has to our fans and our region,” Tom Benson said. “Working together with the Charlotte organization we were able to make this happen with the fans of both communities benefiting and we look forward to working with them on finalizing the specifics of the transition. We are also very thankful to the Charlotte organization for their contribution to the Pelicans Gulf Coast Preservation Fund. It speaks to the positive nature when two teams work together for the better good of our game, our league and our communities.”
The 2008 departure of the Sonics has appeared to influence Stern’s approach to the movement of franchises — and therefore made it more difficult for Seattle to regain an NBA franchise. When the Hornets were in danger of being sold to an owner who might have moved the franchise out of New Orleans, Stern took the drastic step of using NBA money to buy the franchise. He was committed to keeping the team in New Orleans and sold the team for $338 million to Tom Benson, the local owner of the Saints, who next season will rebrand them as the Pelicans while entrenching the team in Louisiana. “He can’t have a second incident of helping a team leave a market,” said an NBA owner of Stern. “Seattle was bad enough. And I’m sure he feels that Seattle had a chance to keep the team the first time around. “The bottom line is that the incumbent always gets the last shot. You don’t want teams moving around.”
Gayle and Tom Benson have pledged $5 million to Loyola University for scholarships for undergraduate students needing financial help. The gift, which Loyola announced Thursday, will be distributed over five years. The money will be divided into two parts, with $1 million for immediate-use scholarships and $4 million for an endowment that will generate financial aid for sophomores, juniors and seniors who have a grade-point average of at least 3.0, said Chris Wiseman, Loyola’s associate vice president for development.
After he takes over, Silver promises to conduct the league’s business much the same way Stern has done over the last three decades that has helped the NBA emerge globally. “I’ve been here for 20 years, so I’ve been part of those plans,’’ Silver said. “Most of the senior management from the NBA is here sitting in the front row, so it will be the same team of people that continue to look at those opportunities. I think we’ll continue to do that the same way we have under David’s leadership.’’ Jay Cicero, the CEO of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, said Silver likes New Orleans. It’s also likely Hornets owner Tom Benson will make a push to bring more All-Star Games to New Orleans.
“We really wanted to find that iconic name that really is special to New Orleans, that has a special New Orleans feel that our fans can resonate with and say hey ‘that is new Orleans that is our culture that is who we are. We wanted to find that iconic symbol just like the fleur de lis is for the Saints.” While the name of the team will remain the Hornets for the remainder of this season, the new logo and name will begin popping up almost immediately. Some New Orleans Pelicans merchandise was expected to be available at the team’s store in the New Orleans Arena Thursday. Officials said any marketing or advertisement for the 2013-2014 season will carry the new logo and name.
The NBA’s Board of Governors already has approved the name change. And the Pelicans’ team colors will be blue, red and gold “This isn’t something that was just done overnight,” Benson said. “This is a long process. We are not just changing the name to change the name. The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here. The Hornets don’t mean anything here. We needed something that symbolizes New Orleans and Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. And nothing does that better than this name.”
In keeping with a promise to re-brand the NBA team he purchased from the league last April, New Orleans Hornets owner Tom Benson officially announced Thursday afternoon that the Hornets’ name will switch to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Bobcats aren’t commenting on the situation in New Orleans, since the name change won’t become official until a Thursday afternoon news conference. However, an NBA source confirmed to the Observer Tuesday night that Hornets owner Tom Benson has been given permission to switch the nickname to the Pelicans, an iconic bird in the state of Louisiana.
We can assume this whole New Orleans Pelicans concept stems from the fact that new Hornets owner Tom Benson owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans and thus might have something to gain financially from the switch. The nicest thing you can say about the whole plan is that the Hornets, according to league sources, have continued to beg the Utah Jazz to relinquish the nickname they kept when the New Orleans Jazz relocated to Salt Lake City in 1979.