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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.