NEW ORLEANS ― George Shinn embraced his son Chris on Sunday night just in front of his courtside seats at the New Orleans Arena before moving on to hug other family members and fans.
It could be his final time doing that as owner of the New Orleans Hornets.
While Shinn wouldn’t officially confirm the sale of the team to minority owner Gary Chouest, minutes after the Hornets home finale, he sounded like a man about to make a life-changing move.
“Obviously, it feels to me like a death in the family,” Shinn said in an interview with Eyewitness Sports reporter Juan Kincaid. “I started this team from the beginning and it has been my whole life. I just feel like something is wrong inside. But I really want to move on with my life.”
If the sale approved is by the NBA, as reports have suggested, the Hornets gave the franchise’s founding father a good going away present. New Orleans beat Minnesota 114-86, tying the season’s largest margin of victory.
“Nothing has been confirmed yet,” Shinn said. “I’m still talking and I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. I honestly don’t have anything worked out. Nothing has been done, nothing has been agreed to. But we’re talking.”
The change in heart for Shinn, 68, began taking shape following his a successful bout against prostate cancer, which he was diagnosed with in November.
Since his return this spring from treatment, Shinn has spoken about how he’s committed to relaying the message of healthy living and eating, something that his fight with taught him.
“Going through this cancer really opened my eyes and made me think and pray about it,” Shinn said. "The Lord has blessed me and now it’s time to give back.
All three of Shinn’s children were in attendance Sunday as was his wife Denise. Shinn didn’t talk to the fans prior to the game as he has the past few seasons, instead, yielding the floor to rookies Marcus Thornton and Darren Collison.
Regardless, Sunday night appeared to be about family for Shinn.
“My children are here and they just seem to be very heartbroken,” Shinn said. “I just can’t believe it. We’ve owned this team my whole life. Now you’re giving it up. Something is going to be missing.”
Shinn began the franchise in Charlotte in 1988 and stayed in North Carolina for 14 seasons. He moved the Hornets to New Orleans prior to the 2002-03 season and guided the franchise through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from Oklahoma City.
Chouest came on in 2007 as a minority owner, purchasing 25 percent of the franchise. His ownership likely would keep the Hornets in New Orleans, something Shinn said he would like to make sure happens.
“I’m committed to whatever deal I work out to keep the team here,” Shinn said.
The Hornets have made the playoffs 11 times in the franchise’s 22 seasons, but will miss the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.