Former and current NBA stars (Bill Russell and Steve Nash pictured) came together in New Orleans to help in continuing hurricane recovery efforts.
It was 1981, I was weeks away from high school graduation and 150 of my closest friends Amtraked it to the Big Easy for our yearly band tour. Given that most of us had recently reached the then-drinking age of 18 and the fact that we fancied ourselves as the artsy group of our class, it was quite literally the time of our lives.
We drank Hurricanes, walked Bourbon Street, hung out by the river’s edge and even managed to perform a couple of concerts, most notably in historic Jackson Square.
When the footage of Katrina’s devastating aftermath began to air two years ago, I joined all who had ever been to New Orleans in a personal feeling of loss. Only those who had the opportunity to enjoy the French Quarter and its eccentricities pre-Katrina could truly know what was lost when that massive storm blew ashore and changed the region forever.
So when I heard that the NBA’s All-Star Weekend was heading to Louisiana I jumped at the chance to return to the source of such great adolescent memories. I knew it would not be the same. Natural disaster and human error had combined to make New Orleans a bleak skeleton of what it once was – a proud and unique destination, combining European style and class with Southern hospitality and good old American entrepreneur spirit.
Upon our arrival on Thursday, the airport shuttle to our hotel made a couple of stops to drop others off in the French Quarter and the memories from our trip over a quarter-century ago (yikes) came back clearer than ever. [Read more...]