Earlier today, we mentioned an article on Bloomberg.com titled “College Basketball Made Louisville, Then Broke It,” a piece that analyzed the uprise and downfall of Louisville athletics.
Hidden in the article was a bit of breaking news that would have been pretty substantial for the state of Kentucky…
The Charlotte Hornets had an agreement to move to Louisville in 2002, but Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich didn’t want to share the city, let alone an arena, with an NBA team.
Around the time Pitino arrived, a group of Louisville businessmen and politicians were making a concerted effort to land an NBA team. In part, this was a play for economic development. Louisville could see how pro football and hockey helped revitalize Nashville. But it also came just as much from a desire for respect. The city burghers even had a nonbinding agreement with the Charlotte Hornets, which wanted to relocate. The plan centered around building a downtown arena that the Hornets and the Cardinals would share.
Jurich and Pitino had other ideas. They had no intention of sharing an arena with an NBA team–they didn’t even want to share the city with an NBA team. Louisville was theirs. David Stern, who was then commissioner of the NBA, recalls thinking, “If Rick Pitino doesn’t want us there, why are we going there?” The Hornets went to New Orleans instead.
The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002 to become the New Orleans Hornets. In 2013, they became the New Orleans Pelicans.
If it weren’t for two power-hungry individuals, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, and Darius Miller would be playing professional basketball in Louisville right now.
As if it weren’t easy enough to dislike Jurich and Pitino already…