Hornets make first Mississippi appearance
By By Richard Dark/EMG sports writer
October 13, 2002
BILOX Mississippi got its second taste of NBA action in three years and if Saturday's numbers are any indication, the New Orleans Hornets should be able to draw a portion of their fan base from here in the Magnolia State.
A healthy crowd of 7,121 poured into the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to witness the Hornets first "home" preseason game. The Hornets contest against the San Antonio Spurs was originally scheduled for the New Orleans Arena, but a previously scheduled Paul McCartney concert opened up the opportunity for the Hornets neighbors to get a taste of NBA action.
With a big yearly muscle car event crowding the beach road area of Hwy. 90, many fans were forced to wait to get in. The annual event, known as "Coast Cruising" created a myriad of traffic problems and delayed the start of the game for nearly 20 minutes.
Subsequently, by halftime there were still a multitude of fans outside in line to get tickets, hoping to get a glimpse of some big name NBA stars. The crowd may have had its best reaction during the timeouts when the Hornet mascot, "Hugo" and the Hornet dancers tossed out shirts and mini basketballs.
As far as the action on the court was concerned, it was strictly preseason basketball. Sloppy play was the rule of the night, but the Spurs had the hotter hand and quicker feet, blowing out the Hornets, 93-76. It was the Hornets third game in four nights. Lee Nailon led New Orleans with 13 points. Spurs backup Stephen Jackson paced the Spurs with 19.
Hall of Famer David Robinson in the final preseason of his career went scoreless in 13 minutes of work.
After the game there were several long lines, as fans waited to get autographs from several Hornet players, and the brand new Hornet merchandise was a hot sell at all the souvenir stands.