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Leaving the Hive

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You may not know Michael Thompson, but chances are good, you know his voice.

For the two years that the Hornets made their nest in Oklahoma City, Thompson was the man on the P.A. He was the voice you heard during the games, announcing players and explaining fouls but also pumping up the crowd.

Him: “Who’s ball is it?”

Entire Ford Center: “Hornets ball.”

Thompson, of course, went back to New Orleans with the team earlier this year. He also works as owner George Shinn’s right-hand man, which means he gets to deal with those of us in the media on a regular basis, so there was plenty for Thompson to do.

Earlier this week, though, I learned that Thompson is leaving the Hornets and New Orleans. He’s taking a job with the Bobcats in Charlotte.

The Hornets’ loss is the Bobcats’ gain.

All of this got me to thinking — how bad are things in New Orleans? Thompson is a guy who held a big-time position with the Hornets. Helping a millionaire run an NBA team during the day, then being the P.A. announce for the games at night? There aren’t too many gigs in sports sweeter than that.

And Thompson was a long-timer with the Hornets, too.

So, the fact that he’s leaving the team is no small sign. I just have to wonder about the state of the city and the state of team. Crowds have been disappointing, even for big games. And even though we hear about how much has improved since Hurricane Katrina, much work still remains around the city.

I’m sad to see Thompson leave the Hornets. I’m sure they are, too. But what concerns me most is what’s happening in New Orleans, not necessarily for the sake of the Hornets but for the sake of all the people there.

The city needs voices like Michael Thompson’s.

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Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›