New Orleans has risen like a phoenix from the ashes (or flood) of Katrina. The recovery has been impressive and heartwarming.
The same is true of St. Bernard Parish, which were decimated by the storm.
On Wednesday, a Chalmette institution rose like the ashes of a nearly devastating fire, not too long after rising like a phoenix from the ashes (or flood) of Katrina.
Rocky and Carlo's began serving their macaroni over parmesan once again, along with delicious, overstuffed sandwiches. The staples remain the same. The menu remains full of outstanding choices.
It has been a tough year for New Orleans sports fans.
While the city has never fared better in landing major sporting events (National Championship Football Game, SEC Basketball Championship, Final Four, ArenaBowl XXV) and the soon to come Super Bowl and Women's Final Four, the events surrounding its beloved teams has been tough.
The Saints have gone through the most trying times in franchise history, resulting in suspensions, fines, penalties and widespread scorn.
LSU performed miserably on offense in an extremely disappointing performance in the National Championship football game.
Tulane had another bad season in football, failed to make an impression in men's basketball and missed the NCAA in baseball yet again. Fortunately, the hiring of Curtis Johnson and continuing talk about a football stadium provide hope.
UNO faded into oblivion, the abyss of Division III, make that Division II, before righting the ship back on course, following the direction of a compass finally pointed in the right direction. The engine has been restarted.
While improved over last season, the VooDoo still have a losing record and are playing to modest crowds, an indication of a sport that is losing steam or of a franchise that simply has not marketed itself properly.
The Zephyrs started fast but have come back to the pack to look like a .500 team which is challenged offensively.
The Jesters lack awareness and are in the midst of a long four-match road trip.
Then, there is the case of the artist known as the Hornets, soon to be known as the artist formerly known as the Hornets.
The franchise sat in limbo after George Shinn sold the team to the NBA in December of 2010. Chris Paul decided he did not want to play here anymore. Ditto for David West. The league voided a trade that would have made the team instantly competitive. There was a lockout, shortening the season, all of which put a dent in fan interest.
After the season started, injuries were the rage. We hardly saw Eric Gordon. Emeka Okafor disappeared from view. Chris Kaman was told to stay home only to receive a sheepish invitation to return. Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Jason Smith. Appropriately, a local kid with the nickname "Squeaky" saw playing time.
The team with squeaking along, leaking oil, peeking into the future, desperate for any sign of hope. While tweaking the roster constantly, Monty Williams marched on and had his team streaking at the end of the season.
His team played hard. They never quit. Faced with a chance to play down to the second or third worst record in the league, the Hornets closed the season winning 8-of-13 games
In the minds of many, they effectively killed any chance of getting the prized No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft in the process by playing hard and winning.
As the old axiom suggests, good things happen to good people--eventually. Sometimes, it takes time.
Good things are finally happening for an area sports franchise. Tom Benson bought the team, providing financial stability and long-term stability in the New Orleans market.
Now, the guys wearing a color called Creole are no longer feeling blue.
The Hornets deserved good fortune. Williams and Dell Demps persevered through extremely trying times.
The improbable winning of the lottery gives the Hornets a chance to build around a potential superstar, just as was the case when Chris Paul fell into their laps with the fourth overall selection in 2005.
Kentucky's Anthony Davis is widely regarded as both a very good player and a very good kid who respects others. He plays an unselfish game, defending hard, blocking shots, rebounding and looking to set picks and pass first. He has the kind of touch and work ethic to develop a solid offensive game.
Davis is just 19-years old. Think Dwight Howard. He has similar size and a similar skill set entering the professional ranks as Howard did. Howard was 18 when he decided to go straight from high school to the NBA. His offensive numbers have improved virtually every year. He was a defensive and rebounding force immediately and quickly transformed the Orlando franchise from, if you'll pardon the pun, a "Mickey Mouse" organization to a perennial playoff team.
Davis can do the same here, particularly if Gordon decides to stay, which just became a much more realistic possibility. Of course, Gordon must prove that he can stay healthy. Young players such as Al-Farouq Aminu, Gustavo Ayon and Greivis Vasquez will have a chance to prove that they belong and grow with Davis.
Lost in the euphoria of the lottery win is the fact that the Hornets also have the 10th overall pick in the draft, a spot where you can get a good, solid player who can be a nice compliment to Davis. In need of a point guard, keep en eye on North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, a good creator who fits the mold of a point guard with size (6'4, 197") which Williams likes.
Suddenly, there is light for a franchise that had hit bottom. Amusingly, the conspiracy theorists are already out there.
A Hornets staffer and a separate ticket broker have already told me that phones began ringing consistently following the luck of the draw last night. Clearly, more people in the area are ready to say "I'm In."
The irony was dripping Wednesday night.
Charlotte, a truly terrible team which truly tanked, quitting, even allowing the head coach's son to coach games down the stretch, lost out to the team which abandoned its city. Those coaches were Paul and Stephen Silas, who served on the first staff of the Hornets when they moved to New Orleans in 2002. Of course, they coached the Hornets in Charlotte as well.
Michael Jordan, who could not lose as perhaps the league's best player ever, cannot win as one of the league's least successful owners. Demps and Williams, who had little or no control over a listing ship, now have a solid course into the sun of recovery, much like the city as a whole.
Davis, who ended his brief college career in New Orleans, will launch his professional career here. Though a different shade, he will wear blue here (at least initially).
Tulane has a promising new football coach in Johnson and the prospect of a stadium. UNO has a promising new president in Peter Fos and a promising new athletic director in Derek Morel. LSU may finally have a quarterback in Zach Mettenberger while the Tiger softball team opens play in the World Series and the Tiger baseball team has a real shot at the College World Series. The Saints are on the field, escaping the horror of the last few months.
Now, the Hornets have real hope, rising indeed from the ashes of virtual destruction, a big win for the Big Easy. Hopefully, the team can serve up a delectable menu of tasty items, led by Davis. Think I'll have to make a trip to Chalmette soon. I can smell the red gravy from my New Orleans office.
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