Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Avery Johnson on the state of New Orleans

New Orleans is always in Avery Johnson’s heart. The native son, like most of the country, remains frustrated with the recovery efforts two full years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city and the Gulf Coast.

“It’s only going to fully recover when the government gets off its butt, when the state and local authorities that are in power positions stop thinking about themselves and really start to care more about people and housing and jobs, and everybody quits the foolishness and all of the red tape,” Johnson said today. “Once all of the bureaucracy is out of it and the people that are getting monies and help down there manage the money properly and get it to the right individuals and families that need it, then it’s going to start moving in the right direction.

“Until then it’s just going to be another story. It’s somewhat of a back-page story right now, which is really disappointing.”

Johnson has long maintained that the plight of New Orleans has been marginalized by mainstream media. He compared the situation to the recent wildfires plaguing Southern California.

“It still should be in the forefront because it’s an American city,” Johnson said. “Any time an American city gets hit like that, like we’ve had the tragedies out in California, we should give them a lot of attention. I’m just curious to see how quickly that part of the country is going to come back as compared to New Orleans.”

Johnson is appreciated of the NBA’s role in the rebuilding process, singling out commissioner David Stern and Hornets owner George Shinn.

“I would like to commend David Stern for keeping the All-Star Game down there,” Johnson said. “I would like commend Mr. Shinn for getting the team back down there and not giving up on New Orleans, because they need some sort of entertainment.

“They need some sort of people in the entertainment industry like we are. We really care about them. I’m really excited about the All-Star Game being down there. I’m glad the Sugar Bowl is back. I’m glad the Hornets are back. Whatever we can do to punch some life in the city, I think it’s a necessity.”

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