Shameless Hornet: George Shinn


The almost complete set of 2005-2006 NBA media guides I was hawking for charity on Ebay sold for $113.50. They might have gone for more if the set had really been complete--but the poor Hornets organization, hit by a flood and all --has had a little trouble getting theirs out on time.

It just arrived. And what I have found in there is so amazing that I might have to keep this one for a while.

First, some background.

George Shinn's kidnapping-for-sex scandal (Shinn was exonerated of the criminal charges, but admitted the sex, and shortly afterward his accuser's husband appears to have committed suicide) got the team run out of Charlotte. According to Business Week he also admitted to a two year dalliance with a Hornets' cheerleader. Shinn was married during both affairs.

The team has made a slew of bad personnel choices, and have been accused in lawsuits of some very sleazy business practices. (One suit alleges attendance last year was only about 9,000 per game, despite reported attendance around 14,000.) The venerable Dan Rosenbaum says "the Hornets are damaging the NBA image much more than Cuban, Van Gundy, or Artest ever did, and so I would think it would be in the league's best interest to deal with them as swiftly and sternly as is possible under its rules."

So, it is with that in mind that I peer into the Hornets' new media guide to see how, if at all, all this is handled in his firm's PR.

The answer: with a colossal, Bible-thumping, White House-endorsed snow job. Even as he drags the NBA's name through the mud, Shinn is brashly over the top in presenting himself to the world as an ideal Christian, role-model, and philanthropist.

Yes, he appears to have done an incredible number of good deeds. But it takes a little of the fun out of it when he crows about every single one. After paragraph after paragraph of documenting practically every old lady he ever helped across the street ("On his birthday in May, Shinn spent the afternoon at University Hospital's maternity ward...") he gets right into hawking his five books on how to be more like him, from Good Morning, Lord! and Leadership Development to You Gotta Believe.

Then there's this: "for a lifetime of achievement in business and higher education, Shinn was one of twelve to receive an American Success Award from President Bush in a White House ceremony." Ugh. The guy who has a brief fling with an intern gets impeached, but the one who carries on and on with an employee dancer gets the "American Success Award" (whatever that is)?

The egomania rolls on, as nepotism, even after his bio ends. The next bio after the owner in most media guides belongs to the team president, who is in this case Paul Mott. Not so in New Orleans/Oklahoma City. Shoehorned into the first spread with the bio and two photos of Shinn (one photo is of Shinn apparently unfolding a t-shirt, or, as the caption says, "leading the Hornets' relief efforts at shelters throughout Baton Rouge) is a photo and bio of "Special Assistant to the Owner and President" Chad Shinn, George's son.

If Chad's bio is to believed, helping out with unspecified tasks since 1989, an incomplete community college education, and a year of assisting the team equipment manager qualify him as someone with "vast knowledge of both the basketball and business side of the NBA." Look out Hornets' fans, the little Shinn has next.