NBA All-Star ’08 in New Orleans: Without a “Plan,” League Should Move

KatrinaKatrin3Katrina HopeNagin

Before the last chip had not been cashed in Las Vegas folks were already making reservations for New Orleans, site of the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. The contest – or should I say, the pah-tay – will culminate a staggering couple of months in the Easy, following the Sugar Bowl (the national championship game), a likely NFL playoff game and Mardi Gras.

NBA Commissioner David Stern awarded the game to the city, in part, because of the overwhelming national compassion stirred by the tragedy we now known as Katrina. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially with the local Hornets, already under financial straits, displaced to Oklahoma City for most of the 2005-2006 season. But now, two years after the disaster struck, Stern and his thinkers should re-route the game to another city.

Why?

In deference to the people New Orleans has seemingly forgotten – local residents who are still struggling to recover and repair and revive their lives. Katrina was a natural disaster. What’s happened since is a man-made travesty. Hardly a day goes by without another report of city residents feeling overwhelmed and overlooked. Who now has not heard of the Lower Ninth, and who has not seem images of ravaged lives still in flux? Who does not know that New Orleans is now a next of crime?

Sure the Saints were a great story. But their journey as America’s team only overshadowed the ugly realities of a city left to die by local, state and national officials.

Those same officials leveraged (dare I say “pimped?”) the national heart to persuade organizations and leagues to “come back” to New Orleans. If all that energy had been spent finding solutions to the travails that encompasses the daily lives of the city’s residents, maybe Spike Lee would have found something entirely different when he filmed his wrenching documentary “When the Levees Broke.” Instead, he found a people abandoned and abused.

Those people now deserve more than simply another game. A lot more. During a press conference in Las Vegas, Stern offered an intriguing insight into his thinking about New Orleans: “Although that sort of politics and government are not our beat, it sure would be nice to see a plan, almost unrelated to basketball, completely unrelated to basketball, to deal with the issues for the people of New Orleans.”

I wasn’t there, so I do not know if anyone followed-up with the question of whether the league would (or even could) decide to take its leather balls elsewhere next year if Stern did not see such a “plan.”

Better yet, if the lives of New Orleans residents – or what’s left of them – are not improved dramatically in the very near future, the league should find another locale for its annual celebration. Sure, make a substantive donation and a committment to support future efforts to rebuild lives.

The way things stand now, however, the people of New Orleans have nothing to celebrate.

Postscript: Apparently, I am not the only one who believes the NBA (and New Orleans) needs to revisit its decision to go to NOLA. AOL Sport’s Jason Whitlock, for very different reasons, says a Big Easy All-Star weekend would be a disaster.

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12 thoughts on “NBA All-Star ’08 in New Orleans: Without a “Plan,” League Should Move

  1. Juan says:

    Roy coming strong with this one.

    No one talks about NO anymore and that is for lack of a better word, sad to me.

    One of my boys (and his family )in my apartment building is from NOLA. They were displaced by Katrina.

    I see the immense pride they have when either the Saints, the LSU Tigers, or the NOOKC Hornets wins or is even on tv. Saints playoff time was a party for these folks. It seemed like outside of each other, this is the one thing that they have that they can really appreciate.

    So my only look into how sports affects people in NOLA is through them and they are here in the other LA.

    Suffice it to say, that I have no real basis by which to form an opinion on whether NOLA should have this game.

    However, for those down there right now, those that stayed, those that weren’t displaced, what is their feeling on having a PARTY down there? This ain’t just a game. This is an extravganza that brings with it tourists, etc.

    Is it a slap in the people’s face if I,and others like me enjoy ours Tequila and Squirts, or what have you, thus contributing a little to the economy and then cut out of town, leaving people with their substandard conditions?

    I think that is what happened after the game next year is over. Will anyone remember the city after that one week of hype? My guess would be “No.”
    That’s just ugly…..

  2. doctorj says:

    I am a native New Orleanian. Tourism is the business of New Orleans. We just pulled off a great Mardi Gras with over 700,000 people attending. We love showing off our city and are esp. thankful for those coming now because they are helping rebuild the culture we love. If the NBA turns its back on New Orleans, it is part of the problem, not the answer, for the city and its residents. What happened to America’s heart? It got hard as stone somewhere along the way.

  3. That is exactly the guilt trip the city and its officials are hoping league officials and other organizations buy. The league and other organizations have done much to help the city’s residents, and I’m we’ll all continue to do more. Our heart is fine. So our are eyes. And until we see that the heretofore incompetent government is fulfilling its promises local residents, why should it be all about parties? I’m sure the league could (and would) continue to be supportive of recovery efforts. I’m sure the amount donated so far by athletes and leagues is well beyond several million. Turn their back? Please. America has stepped up in a big way. But is it helping the people who really need it? The way things look now the thought of a bunch of multi-millionaires hosting a party of extravagance in the city, contrasting the images of poverty and need we still see, would be a jarring insult to those those residents who have already been overlooked. I’m sure they’d rather have real help than have their city host another party to which they would not be invited.

  4. Juan says:

    All I know is I want my tax dollars rebuilding NOLA. I could care less about rebuilding Baghdad. I know it’s cold, that’s just the way I feel.

    I think I would have a hard time getting twisted in NOLA next year and caring about who won a dunnk contest, knowing that devastation the likes of which I’ve never seen, is about two miles away.

    Then everyone will come in , take photos, declare that NOLA is back. When really, it ain’t.

    Do you guys know of any good groups that are focued wholly on rebuilding NOLA?

  5. Daryl says:

    I agree with Roy’s socio-political perspective on the “bastard” treatment of the good people of New Orleans. Remember, our national media called the residents of New Orleans “refugees”. Nevertheless, David Stern’s decision can only set a good example for America’s commerce to follow. However, I would like David Stern to set aside a percentage of the revenue to aid in the restoration of New Orleans. By doing so, the NFL, MLB, and other multi-national corporations will donate to the restoration of New Orleans.

  6. Juan says:

    The multi-national corporations have carved up NOLA and decided what they want and what they don’t want from it. I don’t trust them to be the stewards of the people of NOLA.

    I don’t get the negative connotation with the word refugee.

    I don’t understand how it became so charged. Refugee is defined as a person seeking asylum in a foreign country in order to escape persecution, war, terrorism, extreme poverty, famines, and natural disaster.

    While there was no foreign nation involved, people were seeking refuge from the storm in other cities.
    With the exception of that component of the definition, I think the term applies.

    I think the term “refugee” was meant to be kind, but people got oversensitive with it. I understand the senitivity, but what a waste of time and energy to be discussing whether the term was offensive. The feds promising money and not delivering it by a longshot… now that’s offensive.

  7. Louisa says:

    Get ready for another hurricane if the NBA All Stars and their trash barge blow into New Orleans!
    I was in Las Vegas last weekend for a convention
    and if what was in Las Vegas comes to New Orleans
    next year, it will make Mardi Gras look like a church social! I hope New Orleans is ready for this one, raise the levees for the scum is coming!

  8. Daryl says:

    I beg your pardon Louisa. You have no moral right to call the players of the NBA trash and scum. What gives you the right to judge the character and worth of another human being? Oh, I see, you are above reproach. You are everything America is looking for…Give me a break!!!!!!!

  9. Victor_24 says:

    I THINK ITS GREAT HAVING A ALL STAR GAME IN NEW ORLEANS A STATE THAT HAS BEEEN GOING TO HARD TIMES

  10. lo says:

    ilive in baltimore i was in vegas last year it was a great experience as well as it generated a lot of money .i also came to mardi gras last year it was my first time back in new orleans since katrina. i was shocked to see some things .but the all star weekend will no doubt be a great economic boost for new orleans im looking forward to being there this year

  11. Ray says:

    The Tiger Woods scandal (if you could call it that) has brought on the debate yet again regarding black men and white women

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