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John Owens

With a collective exhale, the city rejoiced as the Benson family purchased the troubled New Orleans Hornets from the NBA. The saga that led up to the purchase, though not fully chronicled by the league or the Bensons, was long and arduous. At long last it’s over, and the Hornets’ future seems secure.

Though little is known about the negotiating process leading up to the deal, the Bensons clearly were a potential buyer from the very beginning. David Stern maintained all along that he would sell the team to a buyer who would keep the team in New Orleans, and he did just that.

One of the more interesting developments in this ordeal is Tom Benson’s continued insistence that he wants to change the name of the Hornets to something that better fits the city.

“We need to find a name like [Jazz]. Whether we can get that or let us use that, you’ve got to know we’re working on it. We’d like to change it tomorrow,” Benson said in an introductory press conference.

It is unlikely that Benson will be able to get the Jazz nomenclature back from Utah, but his efforts certainly indicate an interest in the team that the Hornets never received when owned by the NBA.

This move, more than anything, brings the Hornets much-needed stability. The looming cloud of new ownership cast a shadow over the team this season. Star guard Eric Gordon indicated recently that he loves head coach Monty Williams and playing in New Orleans, which means the Hornets could rope him into a long-term deal. With Benson’s checkbook, the Hornets can also invest in talent in ways they haven’t been able to in the past.

This purchase is great news for New Orleans. Having the solid ownership that Benson and Co. brings is a major bonus for a team with a front office and coaching staff that consistently gets more out of their players than almost any team in the league. With a real owner, the Hornets will get the talent they need again, and the team will once again be competitive. Most importantly, they’ll be in New Orleans.

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