Hornets begin new season in new home

Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 2:10 a.m.
There's a buzz in Oklahoma City. The NBA is in town.
The Hornets, forced out of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, will face Sacramento tonight, the first of 35 regular-season games at the Ford Center.
''I think it's going to be wild and crazy,'' Hornets coach Byron Scott said Monday. ''It's going to be fun. It's going to be a great atmosphere.''
Forward P.J. Brown, entering his 13th NBA season and his sixth with the Hornets, is the only player left from the team's move from Charlotte to New Orleans in 2002.
''It's going to be a new city, kind of like a grand opening,'' Brown said. ''There's going to be a lot of excitement. It's going to be a festive-type atmosphere, and the fans are going to be going wild the first night.
''I expect it to be a lot like it was back home on opening night three years ago.''
The Hornets have planned a ''BuzzFest'' street party with live music and the NBA's interactive Jam Van. Artis Gilmore and Bill Walton will sign autographs, and former Oklahoma standout and NBA All-Star Wayman Tisdale will sing the national anthem.
The NBA released extra seats that it had on hold, and less than 1,000 are available in the 19,163-seat arena. Fans will be given a limited edition T-shirt available only to those in attendance, and a commemorative program will be on sale.
''I'm anxious to see what the atmosphere's going to be like,'' said point guard Chris Paul, the Hornets' No. 1 draft pick. ''It was pretty wild for the preseason games, but I'm sure they were saving some things for the opening night. I have no clue what it's going to be like. I just can't wait.''
  • HAWKS: Investigators suspect center Jason Collier died of a heart problem and will announce their findings today.
    The 28-year-old player died Oct. 15 after he had trouble breathing in his Georgia home.
    The autopsy was conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. GBI spokesman John Bankhead says the office performs all Forsyth County autopsies, and Bankhead said this autopsy showed the cause of death to be ''heart-related.''
    The corner's office announced a news conference for today.
  • GRIZZLIES: Jerry West signed a two-year contract extension Monday, and will remain through 2008 as the team's president of basketball operations.
    The Grizzlies lured West out of retirement and away from the Los Angeles Lakers on April 30, 2002. He was heading into the final year of his contract with the Grizzlies.
  • PISTONS: The team signed Tayshaun Prince to a $47 million, five-year contract extension, preventing one of their key players from becoming a restricted free agent after this season.
    ''He's been a valuable member of our team both on and off the floor in each of his first three years,'' Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said.
    Meanwhile, Detroit traded forward Ronald Dupree to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a future second-round pick, clearing a roster spot for rookie guard Alex Acker.
  • WARRIORS: Forward Mike Dunleavy signed a multiyear contract extension with the team hours before a deadline to prevent him from becoming a restricted free agent after the season.
    Dunleavy, the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, started 79 games for the Warriors last season, averaging a career-best 13.4 points along with 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
  • WIZARDS: Caron Butler signed a five-year contract extension with the team, a move of stability for a player who has been with three teams as he starts his fourth NBA season.
    The 25-year-old swingman, acquired with Chucky Atkins in the offseason trade that sent Kwame Brown to the Los Angeles Lakers, would have become a restricted free agent at the end of the season had he not signed a deal before midnight.
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