Perhaps Saturday's full house signaled that fans are eager to support the Hornets, now that football season has ended and the hangover from Mardi Gras has eased. If so, the All-Star Game could serve as a kind of anchor, mooring the team to its home community after it was windblown by Hurricane Katrina to Oklahoma City for most of the previous two seasons.Certainly, the on-court show demands an audience. Mark Cuban recently insisted the Hornets could do a better job selling the team locally (something coach Byron Scott calls 'a crock' in the Times story), but some sudden swell of interest might fit into Longman's arguments more cleanly. Surely the spectacle of All-Star Weekend helps local awareness, but the removal of diversionary options (LSU football, the Saints, and Mardi Gras preparations) could very well mean more in a market stretched thin of eyeballs and dollars.
But can a surge get the seasonal average where it needs to be to assure the Hornets long-term presence in N.O.? They'd need to (basically) sell out the rest of the season to climb above the baseline which, if not surpassed, allows the franchise to uproot in 2009. And (whole 'nother can of worms alert): do the franchise's string-pullers even want that option off the table?