The Hornets franchise is a danger to the league
NEW ORLEANS -- A new lawsuit filed against the New Orleans Hornets claims the team deprived sales personnel of commissions by falsely recording sales of private suites as if they were group ticket sales in less expensive sections -- a practice that also could have resulted in inflated attendance figures.
The lawsuit is one of several new actions filed this week against the Hornets, who already were accused of failing to pay overtime in a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year. There are 12 plaintiffs in that first case, one of whom still works for the team.
The new legal actions include a request for a protective order, filed in response to allegations in sworn affidavits, that Hornets executives have sought to intimidate other employees who might qualify to join the federal overtime lawsuit by threatening firings and bad references, which would be illegal. The request also alleges that certain executives have made false statements about the lawsuit in an effort to discourage employees from participating.
I hope the league takes these allegations very seriously. I love the NBA and hate to see a franchise do so much damage to the NBA. The Hornets franchise has already poisoned the well in Charlotte, which has made it all the more difficult for the new Bobcats franchise to get traction there. Now it appears to be doing the same thing in New Orleans.
The league is very concerned with its image and thus has in the past dealt very harshly with criticism of referees by Mark Cuban and Jeff Van Gundy and transgressions by players, such as Ron Artest. The Hornets are damaging the NBA image much more than Cuban, Van Gundy, or Artest ever did, and so I would think it would be in the league's best interest to deal with them as swiftly and sternly as is possible under its rules.
David Stern has a tremendous amount of political capital in the league. I think it would be another testament to him if he could creatively come up with a way to help the league do something about this Hornets' franchise.
Update: I intend this to in no way be a criticism of the basketball people for the Hornets. They have, in general, tried to do a good job under very trying circumstances.
Last updated: 1:00 AM, July 29, 2005