The Real George Shinn

He's the Hornets owner whose sex scandal cured Charlotte's love of NBA basketball, and prompted the team to move to New Orleans. He has presided over one of the most abysmal periods in team history--including plentiful losses and wholesale accusations of unsavory business practices. (Dan Rosenbaum: Hornets brass has hurt the league's image more than Mark Cuban, Jeff Van Gundy, or Ron Artest ever did, and the league came down hard on all of them.)

In April, Shinn brought in a new president to clean things up. Paul Mott is a former professional soccer player who admits he loves soccer more than basketball. As Jim Green writes in the Princeton Packet, Mott says the reason he took the job was (drumroll please)... because of George Shinn's character and leadership.

"George Shinn is the major reason why I'm here," Mott said. "I really like the man and respect him. He is a modest, unassuming man who cares about the right things. The NBA is filled with generous owners, and there's no owner that's more sincerely generous. His view on the people that are in the arena and in the community and in his staff he's a visionary, he's a leader. He needed a manager, and I think we've formed a very formidable duo. I believe in his vision, he believes in my ability to execute, and together I think we're doing something pretty special in New Orleans."

Compare and contrast that to this little tale from The Village Voice's Joanna Cagan in 1998:

One of the league's most religious figures (he has a prayer read over his arena's p.a. system before each game), Shinn was accused of kidnapping and sexual assault by a Charlotte woman last year. He allegedly offered to drive the woman to his lawyer for help with her child custody problems. Instead, she charged, he drove her to his home. In the car Shinn allegedly grabbed her breast and put his hand up her underwear. She asked to be taken home, but he refused. (As commissioner Stern once said of Shinn, "He doesn't know how to take no for an answer.")

In his house, Shinn allegedly pushed the woman onto his bed and forced her to perform oral sex. Shinn's accuser claimed he later offered her $200 and told her they'd have to "do this again sometime." A South Carolina prosecutor ultimately decided he didn't have enough evidence to charge Shinn, but said that he thought "something did in fact transpire between Mr. Shinn and this victim."

The woman later filed a civil suit, which is still pending and contains allegations of unwanted sexual advances by two former female employees of the Hornets. One of them, a former Honey Bees dancer, claims that Shinn became obsessed with her. Shinn, meanwhile, has slapped a slander suit on his original accuser. Says his attorney of family-man Shinn: "They met, she gave him a blowjob, she left."

It's hard to tell whether Paul Mott is delusional or complicit. Or perhaps he's just trying to score some points from his boss with a little sugar-coating for PR's sake. Or maybe, just maybe... could it really be possible that George Shinn really is some kind of brilliant leader who's misunderstood? I can't see how that's possible--brilliant leaders tend to have success every now and again--but I'd invite anyone who wants to try to convince me to get in touch.