In a few months, Tom Benson will begin to reshape thein his vision, most visibly by changing the team's name but also by doing something the team's last owner couldn't consider a priority: making the team part of the fabric of the city. George Shinn brought basketball back to New Orleans in 2002, but he did it to make money. It was driven by his nasty break-up with Charlotte and The Big Easy's willingness to supply an arena.
The motives were clear once Hurricane Katrina hit. I'm not the morality police. But in 2007, Shinn tried to undercut Clay Bennett by filing to claim the Oklahoma City market as his own. He wanted to prevent Bennett from bringing the Seattle SuperSonics to OKC ... so that he could move the Hornets there. When New Orleans needed help the most, Shinn wanted to abandon it. Shinn had scores of other "morality" problems, but that's the kicker for me: within a couple years of Katrina, he tried to bail on New Orleans permanently.
Thankfully, the NBA saved the market and preserved pro basketball in New Orleans. Benson, who owns the Saints and has been one of the great philanthropists in post-Katrina Louisiana, agreed to buy the team last week.