On the Road with Mike: Back in New Orleans

Arrived in New Orleans with the Nets last night.  Like most of the country this city is locked in freezing cold temperatures – definitely a tough break for Marvelous who was looking forward to a stroll down historic Bourbon Street.  And unfortunately for the Nets, the Hornets are healthy and playing their best stretch of basketball so far this season.

After a slow start the Hornets have steadily moved up the West standings and are now over the 500 mark. The Nets on the other hand are trying to bounce back from a couple of poor performances, which can be tough on the road.  But sometimes being away from the distractions at home and the tough questions from the media actually helps a team come together and focus.

Traveling in the NBA, especially now with charter planes and improved training facilities, isn’t as difficult as it used to be. The biggest issue with going on the road – besides the challenge of packing for a long stretch – is losing practice time and knocking players off their routines.  A lot of these guys are creatures of habit and it’s important to keep a certain rhythm to a season. That was impossible back when I was coaching the Hawks during the 1984-85 season.

I remember when Ted Turner called the coaches and management into a meeting and told us he had the opportunity to make $1.2 million if he agreed to let the Hawks play 12 of their home games down in Louisiana. This was during the early years of TBS and Ted was looking for capital to keep things moving as the NBA wasn’t yet the tremendous business that David Stern has built it into.

It was also a rebuilding year for the Hawks and attendance was down — so Ted agreed to the one-time arrangement and the Hawks hosted a dozen “home” games at UNO’s Lakefront Arena.  We wound up playing 53 road games and only 29 games at home in Atlanta that season.

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