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News » Esprit de corps is not an issue

Esprit de corps is not an issue

Esprit de corps is not an issue
Remember what it was like, Hornets fans, when this team had its share of malcontents and ego-driven individuals who thought they were bigger than the game?

Remember what it was like when Baron Davis and Jamaal Magloire feuded with management over the banning of their personal trainers from the Alario Center practice facility?

Remember what it was like when Davis single-handedly torpedoed the pro coaching career of Tim Floyd, giving up because of "injury" during the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat?

Remember the showdown of wills between Davis and Coach Byron Scott that resulted in Davis' trade to the Golden State Warriors?

It's worth remembering all of this during this weekend of Thanksgiving, when the Hornets and their fans find themselves far removed from such controversies as are currently playing themselves out in New York, where unhappy point guard Stephon Marbury has twice refused to enter games when asked by Knicks Coach Mike D'Antoni, putting himself before his teammates in his current dispute with New York management.

Keep in mind that Marbury is the second-highest-paid player in the NBA this season, earning $21.9 million.

The Knicks have suspended Marbury for one game and are retroactively fining him an additional game check for refusing to play in another game last week. Thus, Marbury will lose about $400,000 in salary.

Perhaps this will send a message. Likely, it won't.

New York finds itself in an unhealthy dilemma. They've decided Marbury doesn't figure into their future, but they're on the payroll hook for nearly $22 million. Apparently, the "suspension" will be permanent, and the Knicks will go forward without Marbury's divisive presence.

"A player's central obligation is to provide his professional services when called upon," said Knicks President Donnie Walsh in a statement released by the team. "Because he refused the coach's request to play in the team's last game, we had no choice but to impose disciplinary action."

These are halcyon days in New Orleans, even though it wasn't always so.

Therefore everyone should be grateful for the roster filled with good guys who get along, watch out for each other and enjoy playing for the head coach, contrary to reports from one Internet contributor last week who speculated, based on his observations from the stands, sitting behind the Hornets bench, that there was a disconnect between Scott and point guard Chris Paul.

This assertion was based on the columnist's feeling that Paul's body language during a conversation with Scott while a teammate was taking a free throw indicated Paul's disdain for Scott's message.

Scott found the piece laughable.

"Chris and I have never had an issue; we get along extremely well," Scott said. "He's very respectful of me as a coach, and I'm very respectful of him as a player, as I am with all my players. I don't know where it came from. I don't really care.

"Whatever he thought he might have seen, I know what's going on within our organization. It's no big deal."

For his part, Paul, too, was dumbfounded over the baseless Internet report.

"It's crazy," Paul said. "I figure you guys (beat writers) who are with us every day, if something was going on, you all would see it. Maybe he knows something I don't know. If he knows something I don't know, tell him to let me know. I would think me and coach might have one of the best relationships out of the entire NBA.

"I guess people got to have something to talk about. Maybe he should come to a game. Let's talk. If I had a problem with coach, I'd say it. I guess he comes to one game, and he can figure it out."

Scott knows how blessed he is to have the locker room he does, devoid of egos and Marburys and malcontents unlike the one he inherited when he took the job in New Orleans in 2004, before Davis and Magloire were sent packing.

"It's totally different," he said. "It would be different if the guy (who wrote the item) had an opportunity to spend time with this group. He was making observations that it's not a close-knit group, which is about the stupidest thing I've heard.

"These guys get along extremely well. They laugh together, they go to dinner together. I don't know where he gets the observations from, but to me, it's utterly ridiculous. People see what they want to see. But we have no issues on this team."

. . . . . . .

Jimmy Smith can be reached at or 504.826.3814.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: November 30, 2008


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