As I type this, news has just broken that the New Orleans Hornets have fired head coach Byron Scott. The move comes a year too late, and it probably won’t change anything, but hey, maybe now they’ll play rookie Marcus Thornton more. The real problem with the Hornets? This is who they are. They’re not some struggling young team that just needs a new voice to set them straight. They are a bad team. Simple as that.
It all reminds me of Gretchen Mol. Remember her? Like a decade ago, she was pegged as The Next Great Actress, and had her face splashed across magazine covers like this one:
She was beautiful, had an artistic name, seemed interesting… A no-brainer, right? Well, a problem arose when Rounders came out in 1998—it became painfully obvious that Gretchen Mol was a terrible actress. And from there, the hype surrounding Mol quietly subsided, and now she’s a a star on ABC’s Life On Mars, that show with a modern-day cop teleported back to the 1970s.
She was never meant to be the next Meryl Streep. It just wasn’t in her DNA. And just the same, the Hornets were never actually going to be the league’s next “great” team. It would have been a fantastic story for the NBA, Chris Paul certainly seems destined for greatness, and they did have that one playoff run… But the ingredients just aren’t there. Peja Stojakovic is overrated and overpaid, David West is overrated and possibly overpaid, and… what’s left? Emeka Okafor making $50 million over the next four years? Why is this team supposed to be good?
For one season, the forces of the universe conspired to propel them into a different stratosphere. West played great, Tyson Chandler gave a damn, Peja was solid, their stingy owner couldn’t screw things up, and Chris Paul was able to do the rest. That led them to within a game of the Western Conference Finals, and had many calling them a team to watch for the next few years. But none of the players, save for Paul (we’ll get to him), will ever approach that level again, and now, the Hornets are falling back to earth with a thud, taking their place in the middle layers of the basketball universe, just as nature intended. Like starring on Life On Mars.
They are the NBA’s Gretchen Mol. One good year, and then they were exposed. But hey, look at that cover!