LOS ANGELES -- During his "State of the NBA" press conference ahead of Saturday night's All Star festivities, NBA commissioner David Stern addressed assembled media at Staples Center. While much attention was devoted to the impending collective bargaining deadline on June 30, Stern fielded questions on the league's ownership of the New Orleans Hornets and the franchise's future in the city.
When asked about the team's economic state, Stern responded:
I would say that we couldn't have hoped for more than the response that we have been getting. The fans have stepped up in terms of ticket sales. The business community has stepped up. The renewals are underway and we are doing very well with renewals, and we are doing very well preliminarily with business support, and we are also doing very well with the expressed and real support that Mayor Landrieu and Governor Jindal are giving us and we expect there to be success.
Are we still confident about the team's future in New Orleans? Yes.
When asked a follow up question about the similarities between New Orleans and the NBA's relocation of the Seattle Supersonics franchise, Stern answered:
With respect to Seattle, as you explained in your own answer, the arena was not adequate.
In New Orleans, the arena was recently built and is adequate. And so this was a city -- and New Orleans has a special place, given the devastation and difficulties there. We wanted to make sure it had a chance to demonstrate that it was an NBA city. It had the facility, it had an owner that was not prepared to continue to fund it, and we had a lot of relationships that we thought it paid to keep strong by stepping in and buying it, operating it, and shining up for sale in New Orleans.
Seattle was a completely different situation.