Prepare the gumbo, alert Bourbon Street and call 7-foot Rich Kelley to see if he wants to make a comeback. When asked to pick the best site for a new NBA team, our panel of voters favored the Big Easy. "I don't think we should expand," said Portland assistant general manager Jim Paxson, "but if we do, let's give the name Jazz back and go to New Orleans."
The Jazz originated there in 1974-75, never winning more than 40 games in any of the next five seasons before moving to Salt Lake City. Of the 29 players, coaches and executives we polled, seven wanted the league to return to New Orleans. "It's the best city that we don't go to," said one G.M.
San Diego finished second with five votes, Nashville received four and St. Louis and Memphis got two apiece. For all the talk of international expansion, Mexico City was the only site outside the U.S. and Canada to receive a vote. "There are so many fans there, it would help the NBA continue to grow," said Sacramento assistant G.M. Wayne Cooper.
Several voters agreed with Paxson that the talent pool has been too diluted by expansion already. Instead of adding a franchise, said Orlando general manager John Gabriel, "I'd move a team. The Carolinas need another one. Those people understand basketball."