I was reminded recently when looking over the wiki article listing the NBA players with retired jerseys list that some teams have a greater history than others. For example, the Lakers franchise celebrates (or will after Shaq retires, as his number is currently out of circulation) 15 people, while the cross town Clippers have nothing going on up in their part of the rafters in Staples Center. Additionally, some players are celebrated even in places that they have no affiliation for -- for example Michael Jordan (who is not from Miami, didn't play college in Florida, and has never played for any franchise down there) has his jersey retired by the Heat. The only thing I can think of that links the two is that Jordan used to kill the Heat and Knicks -- both teams when Pat Riley was the coach there. Well, Jordan is so larger than life that he was playing ball for the Bulls with his #45 while his #23 was up in the rafters -- then later unretired his jersey (paid the small fine) and was balling in that to end his Bulls career. Seriously, what a douche-bag. The list is interesting to look over, did you know that Jim Loscutoff, a Celtics player, actually asked for his number to be free to use by others?
"Loscutoff asked that his legacy be honored by allowing other Celtics to wear his number in the future. It was later retired in honor of [Dave] Cowens. Loscutoff is represented by a square with the letters "LOSCY"."(Wikipedia, 2008)
Out of all the numbers retired (and some not retired . . .) there has to be some politics involved. Jazz fans know about the whole Adrian Dantley situation. He was a key player for our teams back when he played in Utah (1979-1986), and was 'The Man' when the Jazz first started winning division titles and going to the playoffs. He was a top 3 scorer in the NBA five different times, and was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He left the Jazz under sour terms and his jersey retirement was passed over for many years while the Jazz franchise took care of these franchise icons first: Frank Layden in 1988, Darrell Griffith in 1993, Mark Eaton in 1996, Jeff Hornacek in 2002, John Stockton in 2004, and Karl Malone in 2006. They finally got around to Dantley (who had been retired since 1991, before every one of those guys but Coach Layden) in April of 2007. So getting your jersey retired involves more than just being a good player for a franchise. Just look at Jazz franchise great Pete Maravich.
Pistol Pete was born in Pennsylvania and played college at LSU. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks back in 1969-1970 NBA Draft. He was traded to the expansion New Orleans Jazz franchise (1974-1975 season) for Dean Meminger, Bob Kauffman, two 1st round draft picks and two 2nd round draft picks. It is interesting to note that his years in New Orleans were relatively poor seasons for the team. If New Orleans was so great, why did they have to leave in the first place? If the fans really cared they never would have left. Yeah. The New Orleans fanbase is terrible. The fans have no heart, and don't really care about supporting their basketball franchise -- or at least they didn't back when Pete played there. (compare that to the wild fanbase that the Jazz franchise now is happy to have, it's a great contrast really)
That said, the Charlotte Hornets franchise decided to retire "Pistol" Pete's jersey when they moved to New Orleans. This is stupid, and their franchise is too. Pete was a great player at LSU (basically owning the entire NCAA), and was one of the most spectacular players in the NBA during his peak. But the New Orleans Hornets have no legitimate claim to Pete at all. The Utah Jazz did not retire Moses Malone's jersey -- even though he played for the Utah Stars back in the day. The New Orleans Hornets did not retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey -- and he was a great player for LSU who also never played for the Charlotte Hornets franchise either. (Seriously, isn't that the qualification to get your jersey retired in New Orleans now-a-days?)
What I see this as is a cheap ploy to drum up interest in a city that has a history of not caring about their basketball team. If the Bulls team moves from Chicago to, lets say, Madrid (in David Stern's world, how far fetched is this in our lifetimes?), and Milwaukee's franchise gets relocated to the Chicago area does this mean that the Bucks franchise can now put up banners proclaiming Michael Jordan as one of their best players in franchise history? (Not that Jordan would care, the more retirements the merrier for him)
Or if the Sacramento Kings get relocated to Seattle, do they get the right to put up Gary Payton and Nate McMillan jerseys before their first home game? It would be one thing for the Charlotte Hornets to pick up the past of a dead franchise upon moving to a new city. (Like how the Toronto Raptors share some history with the Toronto Huskies) But it is an entirely different thing to steal players and history from an existing (and much better) franchise that previously played all of 4.5 seasons there. (as opposed to the 28.5 seasons in Utah)
Seriously Charlotte/New Orleans -- hang up some Muggsy Bogues jerseys instead -- you know, some players who actually played in your pitiful franchise. Rex Chapman isn't doing much now a days, maybe you can sell some more tickets that way. Not that it matters really . . . 19,907 > 14,181. Maybe we can loan you guys Karl Malone too, he played at Louisiana Tech in college and the Utah Jazz in the NBA as well. So that obviously makes him a franchise cornerstone for the Charlotte Hornets. Go knock yourselves out, New Orleans fans.