Hornets' woes foreshadow lockout

JOHN McMULLEN, Sports Network

, Last Updated: 1:59 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- The NBA's current financial problems are just a microcosm of our Federal Government's. In turn, the New Orleans Hornets' money woes are a mirror in to the NBA's.

While real revenues in The Association remain high in a tough economy, the highest in league history last year, the red ink has never run deeper thanks in large part to the massive ponzi scheme that is being run by just about every big business in America.

An almost shadow economy fueled by a grossly inflated, almost criminal borrowing market has encouraged just about all of us to take from others in order to overpay for everything with the assumption the real money would be there in the end.

It many cases, it wasn't.

For the average Joe that meant losing his job and defaulting on his credit card bills or mortgage. For the billionaires that run sports teams, it meant falling behind on exorbitant loans took out to buy their teams, pay the outrageous salaries or build palatial new stadiums that sit as empty reminders of the Roman Empire on more nights than not.

It was and remains a real life shell game that has already destroyed countless families and will no doubt cripple many more when the end of the rainbow turns out to be just an optical illusion.

Spending is simply lapping the gross receipts coming in to the NBA and has been for quite some time. Nowhere is that more evident than the Big Easy, where the league pulled out its own Troubled Assets Relief Program earlier this month by bailing out George Shinn and absolving him of his massive basketball debt by taking over his team.

One questions remains, however ...

Are the Hornets worth saving? Are they really too big to fail?

Despite possessing a solid team with one of the top 10 players in the league in Chris Paul, along with a complimentary All-Star piece in David West, half of the fans in the 19,000 seat New Orleans Arena are dressed up as empty seats unless the Hornets are playing LeBron James or Kobe Bryant.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has practically begged his constituents to show up if for no other reason to prove New Orleans is a major league city.

But you know what -- maybe it isn't.

Bourbon Street may make you a major party destination for something like a Super Bowl but asking the locals to support something like basketball where you need to show up 41 times a year before the playoffs even begin may be a bit much.

Already the NBA is readying for Armageddon and I am not talking about some hokey Ben Affleck film for the Three Stages of Hell Match Shawn Michaels and Triple H pulled off back in 2002.

The talking points of a broken economic model have been strong and when the current collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2011 season, a lockout is virtually inevitable. A lockout designed to destroy the players by pushing a work stoppage and lost game checks far past where entitled athletes used to a certain standard of living are prepared to go.

New Orleans isn't ground zero but it's the blueprint for what went wrong.


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