George Shinn Rumors
Silas coached the Hornets until 2003, piloting the franchise through its move to New Orleans. He was fired after leading the team to a strong 47-35 record, but then falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. Silas laughed when he recalled how he found out about the firing. Reporters had arrived at his door to ask about it, and Silas simply walked next door to team owner George Shinn’s house. “You don’t want to kick my ass, do you?” Shinn asked, according to Silas. “I grabbed him and said, ‘George, you gave me nothing but a great career. I love you man.’ We became buddies after that, but he thought we were going to go at it.”
George Shinn, the former owner of the Charlotte, and New Orleans, Hornets, calls Tuesday from Nashville. He lives outside Nashville and operates his charitable Trulight Foundation there. His message is clear. When New Orleans’ NBA franchise relinquishes the Hornets’ name, Bobcats’ owner Michael Jordan should pounce on it. Shinn, 71, backs up a little and says he isn’t telling Jordan what to do. “If Michael sees fit, I’d like to help,” Shinn says. He says the Hornets nickname would be great for Jordan, Jordan’s team and the community. “It was never my name,” says Shinn. “It belonged to Charlotte.”
According to his employees, Jordan has been sticking to his new plan, stepping away from the draft board and into the boardroom. Jordan, for his part, declined to be interviewed for this story, citing a summer schedule packed with “face of the city” obligations before and during the Democratic National Convention, held at the Bobcats’ arena. That’s just one part of finally taking on the burden of repairing bridges with the city long ago napalmed by Bob Johnson, who laid off his community relations staff to save cash, and former Hornets owner George Shinn, who relocated the team to New Orleans while keeping his middle finger fully extended.
The league chose Benson, who will be purchasing the team by himself, over a group of investors including businessman Raj Bhathal and former NBA head coach and general manager Mike Dunleavy, and former minority owner Gary Chouest, who had tried unsuccessfully to buy the team from majority owner George Shinn three years ago. The Bhathal group also included Larry Benson, Tom Benson’s younger brother.
Sources said the NBA, which acquired the Hornets in December 2010 from founding owner George Shinn to prevent Shinn from selling to an investor who planned to move the franchise out of New Orleans, confirmed the purchase prices. The league paid about $318 million for the Hornets, then contributed additional capital into the last 16 months, reportedly in the neighborhood of $18 million.
Sources close to Bhathal’s group said Thursday that it has been Bhathal’s focus from the beginning to keep the team in New Orleans and that Bhathal has the financial wherewithal to consummate a purchase. Chouest, the source said, did not want to be a majority owner of the Hornets, but wanted to be involved on a basis similar to his previous minority ownership with founding owner George Shinn. Chouest initially purchased a 25 percent stake in the Hornets and absorbed an additional 10 percent through a series of financial contributions over the years.
Paul consistently expressed a desire to be a Hornet, saying things like, “Right now my position is to win a championship right here in New Orleans.” That became untenable, though, when the team’s financial prospects were so shaky that the NBA had to take over the team when no local owner stepped in to buy it from George Shinn. How could Paul commit to being an employee when no one committed to being the boss? “Not having an owner played a major part in it,” said C.J. Paul, Chris’ brother. “Anything could happen.”