Originally created 12/16/05

Hornets return to Louisiana



OKLAHOMA CITY - P.J. Brown knows firsthand the horrors that Hurricane Katrina brought on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region - and he doesn't want anyone to forget.

Brown and the New Orleans Hornets will play the Phoenix Suns in Baton Rouge tonight, the first of six "home" games scheduled on the campus of Louisiana State.

Before the game, Brown hopes to get home for a few hours to tie up some loose ends. But even 3 months after the storm, there's no way he can spend one night at his house in Slidell, La., across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans.

"It's not livable," said Brown, the Hornets' 6-foot-11 center. "We really haven't even started getting it back. We've got it cleaned up and stuff like that just like everybody else.

"The insurance companies are dragging their feet with all of us."

The trip home will be a fresh reminder for Brown, who visited his flooded, damaged and looted home several times before the season began and went back again for his mother-in-law's funeral in November.

"It's special to go back home and go back and see family, see some friends and play in front of so many of our fans who haven't had a chance to see us play," Brown said. "It's bittersweet. It's tough just knowing the situation, knowing a lot of the tough times that people are going through down there."

Although Brown keeps up with Katrina's lingering effects, he fears that the country's awareness has dropped off since the Aug. 29 storm.

"You see the reports, but people don't have no idea the pain and suffering that people are going through down there," he said. "We've got a long, long way to go down there."

Brown will be among the players presenting food to hundreds of needy families as part of an "Operation Rebound" caravan stopping in three Louisiana cities over the weekend. He said he hopes the effort reminds others that there's more work to be done.

"It's something that we've got to keep coming. There's a shortage of things like that. It's going to be a long while before people can stand up on their own feet again, and our country has to realize that," Brown said. "There's a lot of people that still suffer from a lot of things that people don't understand. There's a lot of bad things that are still going on down there."

FINED: Ron Artest's trade request will cost him $10,000, and the NBA also fined the Los Angeles Lakers $25,000 for coach Phil Jackson's comments about Toronto forward Chris Bosh.

Artest was penalized for "making public statements detrimental to the NBA." The NBA said Jackson violated the league's anti-tampering rule with his comments about the Lakers' interest in Bosh.