Current, past NBA players work on Habitat house
NEW ORLEANS -- Spud Webb, who became famous for his spectacular ball-handling skills during his 12 years in the NBA, was not very comfortable with his hammer-handling skills on Wednesday.
Sitting on the plywood deck being installed in a Habitat for Humanities house, Webb was not having a lot of success driving in the nails that would hold the subflooring down.
"I have a newfound respect for people who do all this hard work," Webb said. "From now on when I walk through a house I'll have a lot of respect for what went into building it."
Webb was among a number of former NBA stars and current members of the Hornets and Lakers who spent part of Wednesday working on a Habitat house in the flood-ravaged Ninth Ward.
Habitat hopes to build between 100 and 200 houses in the city which lost almost 200,000 houses in Hurricane Katrina. The three now being worked on in one of the worst flooded areas, are being built above the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood guidelines, said Elizabeth Lisle, deputy director of the New Orleans chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
"If you look at the flood marks in this neighborhood they're about 18 inches high," Lisle said. "We're building five feet off the ground."
The Lakers and Hornets were scheduled to play the first professional game in New Orleans since the Aug. 29 storm on Wednesday night. Players said it was unusual to do anything besides game preparations on the day of the game. They felt showing up for the Habitat session was worth breaking that routine.
"I love working with Habitat for Humanity," said Hornets center P.J. Brown. "Especially in a situation like this."
After driving around the city, Brown said he was heartbroken about the destruction, but pleased with the activity he saw. He took it as a good sign of recovery, despite the destruction that remained.
NBA commissioner David Stern arrived after spending the morning with city and state officials and accessing the status of the city.
"There's no doubt the city is making progress," Stern said.
The Hornets are only scheduled to play six games in New Orleans next season, but Stern reiterated his promise that the city would get its team back.
"Yes, there will be an NBA team here," Stern said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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