|Arena||Time Warner Cable Arena|
|City||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Team colors||Purple, Teal, Gray, Black, Light Blue
|General manager||Rich Cho|
|Head coach||Steve Clifford|
|D-League affiliate||Fort Wayne Mad Ants|
|Retired numbers||1 (13)|
The Charlotte Hornets are an American professional basketball team based in Charlotte, North Carolina, that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA). They are members of the Southeast Division in the league's Eastern Conference. The team is largely owned by former NBA player Michael Jordan, who acquired controlling interest in the team in 2010. The Hornets play their home games at Time Warner Cable Arena in center-city Charlotte.
The Hornets were first established in 1988 as an expansion team, but relocated to New Orleans following the 2001–02 season. In 2004, a new expansion team, the Charlotte Bobcats, was established. After ten seasons as the Bobcats, the team changed its name to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014-15 season, a year after the New Orleans franchise relinquished the Hornets name and renamed itself the Pelicans. In addition to re-inheriting the Hornets name from New Orleans, the Charlotte franchise reclaimed the history and records of the original 1988–2002 Hornets, effectively becoming a continuation of the original franchise.
- 1 Franchise history
- 2 Personnel
- 3 Charlotte Honey Bees
- 4 Uniforms and arenas
- 5 Franchise records, awards and honors
- 6 Mascot
- 7 Media coverage
- 8 References
- 9 External links
1985–88: Birth of the Hornets
In 1985, the NBA was planning to expand by four teams. George Shinn, an entrepreneur from Kannapolis, North Carolina, wanted to bring an NBA team to the Charlotte area, and he assembled a group of prominent local businessmen to head the prospective franchise. The Charlotte area had long been a hotbed for college basketball. The Atlantic Coast Conference's four North Carolina teams, as well as local teams UNC Charlotte, Davidson, and Johnson C. Smith, had large and loyal fan bases in the city. Charlotte was also one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and was previously one of the three in-state regional homes to the American Basketball Association's Carolina Cougars, from 1969 to 1974.
Some critics doubted that Charlotte could support an NBA team; one Sacramento Bee columnist joked, "The only franchise Charlotte is going to get is one with golden arches." However, Shinn's ace in the hole was the Charlotte Coliseum, a state-of-the-art arena under construction that would seat almost 24,000 spectators – the largest basketball-specific arena ever to serve as a full-time home for an NBA team. On April 5, 1987, NBA Commissioner David Stern called Shinn to tell him that his group had been awarded the 24th franchise of the NBA, to begin play in 1988. Franchises were also granted to Miami, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and Orlando.
Originally, the new team was going to be called the Charlotte Spirit, but a name-the-team contest yielded "Hornets" as the winning choice. The name was derived from the city's fierce resistance to British occupation during the Revolutionary War, which prompted the British commander, Lord Cornwallis, to refer to it as "a veritable hornet's nest of rebellion." The name had been used for Charlotte sports teams before, including a minor league baseball team that was located in the city from 1901 to 1972, as well as a World Football League team that played there from 1974 to 1975. In addition the Charlotte 49ers and Davidson Wildcats of the NCAA play annually for the Hornets' Nest Trophy.
The team received attention when it chose teal as its primary color, setting off a sports fashion craze in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with many pro and amateur clubs soon following with teal in their color schemes. The team's uniforms were designed by international designer and North Carolina native Alexander Julian, and featured a first for NBA uniforms—pinstripes. Similar designs by the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, and Indiana Pacers followed soon after.
Shinn hired Carl Scheer, a longtime NBA executive, as the team's first general manager. Scheer preferred a roster of veteran players, hoping to put together a competitive team as soon as possible, with a goal of making the playoffs in five years. Former college coach and veteran NBA assistant Dick Harter was also hired, becoming the team's first head coach.
In 1988, the Hornets and the Miami Heat were part of the 1988 NBA Expansion Draft. Unlike many expansion franchises that invest in the future with a team composed entirely of young players, Charlotte stocked its inaugural roster with several veterans in hopes of putting a competitive lineup on the court right away. The team also had three draft picks at the 1988 NBA Draft.
In its inaugural season the Hornets were led by ex-Pistons guard Kelly Tripucka, who provided instant offense and was Charlotte's top scorer for the franchise's first two seasons. Other notable players included sharpshooting rookie and first-ever draft choice Rex Chapman, a long-distance scoring threat, and floor general Muggsy Bogues, the shortest player in NBA history at 5'3". The Hornets' first NBA game took place on November 4, 1988, at the Charlotte Coliseum, and was a 133–93 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Four days later, the team notched their first-ever victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, 117–105. On December 23, 1988, the Hornets really gave their fans something to cheer about, beating Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls 103–101 at the buzzer in Jordan's first return to North Carolina as a professional. The Hornets finished their inaugural season with a record of 20 wins and 62 losses.
Despite initial concerns that the Coliseum was too big, the Hornets were a runaway hit in their first season, leading the NBA in attendance, a feat they would achieve seven more times in Charlotte. Eventually, the Hornets would sell out 364 consecutive games—almost nine consecutive seasons.
The Hornets' second season was a struggle from start to finish. Members of the team rebelled against Dick Harter's defense-oriented style, and he was replaced mid-season by assistant Gene Littles following a dismal 8–32 start. Despite the change, the team continued to struggle during the second half of the season, suffering through a 3–31 stretch from January through March. In the end, the team took a step backwards, finishing the season with a disappointing 19–63 record – one game worse than their previous season.
In the 1990 NBA Draft, the Hornets selected guard Kendall Gill with the 5th overall pick. The team showed improvement during the 1990–91 season. They won eight of their first fifteen games, including a 120–105 victory over the Washington Bullets. However, the team went cold, losing their next eleven games and falling to an 8–18 record. The Hornets, who hosted the 1991 NBA All-Star Game, finished their third season with a 26–56 record. Despite the team's seven-game improvement over the previous season, Gene Littles was fired at the end of the season and replaced by general manager Allan Bristow.
With the first pick in the 1991 NBA Draft, the Hornets drafted power forward Larry Johnson from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Johnson had an impact season, finishing among the league leaders in points and rebounds, and winning the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Additionally, Guard Kendall Gill led the club in scoring, averaging over 20 points per game. The team stayed in contention for a playoff spot until March, but in the end, they finished the season with a record of 31–51. Despite continuing to improve, the Hornets failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
The Hornets were in the lottery again in 1992 and won the second overall pick in the draft, using it to select Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning. The Hornets now had two 20–10 threats in Johnson and Mourning, who with Kendall Gill, formed perhaps the league's top young trio. The team finished their fifth season at 44–38, their first-ever winning record and good enough for the first playoff berth in franchise history. Finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets upset the Boston Celtics in the first round, with Mourning winning the series with a 20-footer in game four. However, the Hornets lacked the experience and depth to defeat the New York Knicks, falling in five games in the second round.
The Hornets finished the 1993–94 season with a 41–41 record, narrowly missing the playoffs. Despite injuries to both Johnson and Mourning, the two led the team in points-per-game. The following season, the Hornets finished the regular season with 50 wins and 32 losses, and returned to the playoffs. Johnson and Mourning again led the team in points-per-game, while also leading the club in rebounding. However, Charlotte was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, falling to the Chicago Bulls in four games. Following the season, the Johnson–Mourning era would come to an end, as the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat for forward Glen Rice, center Matt Geiger, and guard Khalid Reeves.
Glen Rice would make an immediate impact after joining the Hornets, leading the team in scoring and points-per-game during the 1995–96 season. While Rice and Johnson provided high-powered scoring, Geiger tied with Johnson for the team lead in rebounds, and All-Star guard Kenny Anderson ran the point for the injured Muggsy Bogues. The Hornets were competitive, but failed to qualify for the playoffs during the season, again finishing with a 41–41 record. Head Coach Allan Bristow resigned at the end of the season, and was replaced by NBA legend Dave Cowens.
The 1996 off-season was again marked by vast changes: Anderson declined to re-sign, Johnson was shipped to the Knicks for power forward Anthony Mason, and the team made a trade on draft day 1996. They acquired center Vlade Divac from the Los Angeles Lakers for the rights to Kobe Bryant, who the Hornets picked 13th in the draft. The new-look Hornets were successful, with Divac and Geiger providing the center combination, Mason averaging a double-double, Bogues back at the point, and Rice having the finest season of his career. The team achieved the best season in its history at the time, finishing with 54 victories compared to only 28 losses, and making it back to the playoffs. Rice finishing third in the league in scoring, earning all-NBA second team honors, and was also the All-Star Game MVP, setting several scoring records. Despite the success during the regular season, the Hornets went down rather meekly to the Knicks in three straight games.
The 1997–98 season was also successful. Muggsy Bogues was traded two games into the season, and the team picked up point guard David Wesley and shooting guard Bobby Phills. With Wesley, Phills, Rice, Mason, and Divac, the Hornets romped through the regular season, finishing with a 51–31 record; Rice had another good season, as he finished sixth in league scoring and earned all-NBA third team honors. The Hornets made it to back-to-back playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and advanced to the second round, only to again be stopped by the Bulls.
1998–2002: Final years of original Hornets
The 1998–99 season was turbulent. The season didn't start until February, as the lockout shortened the regular season to only 50 games. Additionally, Glen Rice was traded to the Lakers for Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell, and Dave Cowens resigned midway through the season. He was replaced by former Celtics teammate Paul Silas, who became the franchises fifth Head Coach. The team finished the season with a 26–24 record, but failed to qualify for the playoffs.
The 1999–2000 season saw a return to prominence, with the addition of Jamal Mashburn and point guard Baron Davis, the third overall draft pick. The Hornets tore through much of the season, but tragedy struck on January 12, 2000, when fan favorite and top reserve Bobby Phills was killed in an automobile accident; the Hornets retired his No. 13 on February 9, 2000. After finishing the regular season with a 49–33 record, the team was able to return to the playoffs, where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round. The season, however, was overshadowed by events off the court. The team's popularity had begun to sag due to fan discontent with owner George Shinn's personnel moves; he had reportedly traded Mourning and several other stars out of an unwillingness to pay them market value. Additionally, Michael Jordan, a North Carolina native, began negotiations to become part-owner of the team, but talks collapsed when Shinn refused to grant Jordan total control over the basketball side of the operation. Because of this, the team's attendance dropped to eleventh in the league for the season.
In the 2000–01 season, the Hornets managed to return to the playoffs, finishing the season with a 46–36 record. While they upset the third-seeded Heat in the first round and made it to the conference semifinals for just the third time in franchise history, they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games. Despite the team continuing to play well, their popularity continued to fall, with the team finishing twenty-first in the league in attendance for the season.
The Hornets returned to the playoffs the following season, finishing the regular season at 44–38. After defeating the Orlando Magic in the first round, they were upended by the New Jersey Nets in five games in the Conference Semifinals. The team finished the season twenty-ninth (last) in the league in attendance, a stark contrast to their earlier years in Charlotte. Before the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA approved a deal for the team to move to New Orleans following the season.
2002–04: Relocation and establishing the Bobcats
Shortly after the New Orleans relocation, the NBA opened itself to the possibility of adding another expansion team in Charlotte for the 2004–05 season, given an arena deal could be reached. Several ownership groups, including one led by former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, made bids for the franchise. On December 18, 2002, a group led by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson was awarded the franchise, allowing him to become the first majority African American owner in U.S. major professional sports. The rapper Nelly became another notable co-owner.
In June 2003, the team was named the Bobcats. The Charlotte Regional Sports Commission aided with the "Help Name The Team" effort that drew over 1,250 suggestions. The three finalists were Bobcats, Dragons, and the eventual winner Flight, referencing North Carolina's "First in Flight" status due to hosting the Wright Flyer demonstrations as well as the state's current military bases. But this name was eventually discarded by Johnson and the team involved in creating the team's identity, being considered too abstract and reminiscent of the then-current Iraq War aerial strikes. During the summer of 2003, at a street festival that attracted an overflow crowd of 7,000 fans, the Charlotte NBA expansion franchise unveiled "Bobcats" as the team name. The bobcat, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, is an athletic, fierce predator indigenous to the Carolinas. Given Charlotte was already home to a cat-named team, the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League, designer Chris Weiller made sure to create a logo that could avert confusion or excessive comparisons. There is also suspicion that owner Robert "Bob" Johnson chose "Bobcats" as a play on his name.
The Bobcats hired Bernie Bickerstaff as the first head coach and general manager in franchise history. A new arena to host the Bobcats at uptown Charlotte begun its construction on July 2003, and the team would play its home games at the Coliseum until the new building was ready. Despite failed attempts at the ballot box to fully fund the arena, city politicians decided to implement a hotel and leisure tax in Charlotte to help pay for it.
The Bobcats held their expansion draft on June 22, 2004, picking up youngsters such as Gerald Wallace, Primož Brezec, and Jason Kapono. They also drafted talented European players such as Predrag Drobnjak, Sasha Pavlović, and Zaza Pachulia, however they would be cut before the season opener and never played a game in a Bobcat uniform. Shortly after, they traded with the Los Angeles Clippers to acquire the second pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, which they used to select Emeka Okafor, a center from Connecticut. The Bobcats' first game of the 2004–05 season took place on November 4 at the Charlotte Coliseum, and was a 103–96 loss to the Washington Wizards. Two days later, they won their first game in franchise history over the Orlando Magic, 111–100. On December 14, the Bobcats beat the New Orleans Hornets 94–93 in overtime in the team's first trip to Charlotte after their move to New Orleans. However, the Bobcats mostly struggled, finishing their inaugural season with a record of 18–64, never winning more than two games in a row. Emeka Okafor put on a strong performance, and won the 2004–05 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
In the 2005 NBA Draft, the Bobcats drafted Raymond Felton and Sean May from North Carolina. With them, in addition to Okafor and Wallace, the team hoped to build a young, solid foundation for future success. In their second season, the Bobcats opened the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena with an overtime victory over the Boston Celtics. Despite struggling again for most of the year, they managed to close out the season with four straight wins to finish with a record of 26–56, an eight game improvement over their inaugural season. After the season, the Bobcats announced that NBA legend and North Carolina native Michael Jordan had bought a minority stake in the team, becoming the second-largest shareholder. As part of the deal, he became head of basketball operations. Though Bickerstaff remained general manager, Jordan had the final say on all basketball matters.
The Bobcats showed some improvement during the 2006–07 season, posting a playoff-hopeful record of 22–33 late in February 2007. However, the team went through an eight-game losing streak and dropped their record to 22–41 by early March 2007. Following the slump, Michael Jordan announced that head coach Bernie Bickerstaff would not return to coach the following season, but would finish coaching the remainder of the current season. The Bobcats won 11 of their last 19 games of Bickerstaff's tenure to finish their third season with a 33–49 record. In three seasons with the Bobcats, Bickerstaff finished with an overall head coaching record of 77–169.
Front office and coaching were key focuses for the Bobcats during the 2007 offseason. Rod Higgins was hired as general manager, and Sam Vincent was hired as the second head coach in franchise history. Phil Ford was added to the coaching staff over the summer, and another position was filled when Buzz Peterson was hired from Coastal Carolina University to become director of player personnel. In the 2007 NBA Draft, Brandan Wright was selected by the Bobcats with the eighth pick; he was subsequently traded to Golden State in a deal that included Jason Richardson being sent to Charlotte. The Bobcats were unable to capitalize on offseason moves, though, finishing the 2007–08 season with a disappointing 32–50 record. The team, which felt confident the season would end with its first playoff berth, struggled amid rumors of players clashing with the coach. Only lasting a year, in which he struggled with personnel decisions, Sam Vincent was fired on April 26, 2008.
On April 29, 2008 the Bobcats reached an agreement to hire Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Brown as the third head coach in franchise history. With the ninth selection of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Bobcats selected D. J. Augustin from Texas. On December 10, 2008, a little over a month into the season, the Bobcats traded their leading scorer, Jason Richardson along with Jared Dudley to Phoenix in exchange for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell. The trade turned out to be quite successful as the team came very close to reaching the franchise's first playoff berth during the 2008–09 season, but finished just four games out of eighth place with a team record of 35 wins and 47 losses. Members of the team voiced their frustration at management for hosting the Charlotte Jumper Classic, an equestrian event, at the end of the season. The scheduling conflict forced the Bobcats to play their final four games on the road, virtually ending any playoff hopes. Following the season, Robert Johnson announced he was putting the team up for sale.
2009–10: Michael Jordan's acquisition of the franchise
During the offseason, Gerald Henderson from Duke was chosen with the 12th pick by the Bobcats in the 2009 NBA Draft. The Bobcats traded Emeka Okafor for New Orleans Hornets center Tyson Chandler, and through more trades acquired Stephen Jackson and Acie Law from the Golden State Warriors. On February 27, 2010, it was announced that Robert Johnson had decided to sell the team to Michael Jordan, allowing Jordan to become the first former NBA player to become majority owner of a franchise.
On April 9, 2010, the Bobcats clinched their first ever playoff berth with an exciting 104–103 road win over the New Orleans Hornets, finishing the 2009–10 season with an overall record of 44–38, the team's first-ever winning record. Gerald Wallace was a huge factor in the Bobcats run to the playoffs as he became the first player in franchise history to become an NBA All-Star. However, in the first round of the playoffs, the Bobcats were swept by the Orlando Magic, quickly ending their season.
The Bobcats began the 2010–11 season with high hopes following their success the previous season. Despite the departures of key players such as Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, the Bobcats started their season hoping to once again make the playoffs. However, the Bobcats struggled early during the season, and on December 22, 2010, following a dismal 9–19 start, Michael Jordan announced that Larry Brown had stepped down as the Bobcats Head Coach; that same day, veteran coach Paul Silas was hired as their new head coach. On February 24, 2011, the day of the NBA trade deadline, the Bobcats made some moves to clear up some cap space by sending former all-star forward Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers for two first round draft picks, Joel Przybilla, Sean Marks, and Dante Cunningham. They also sent veteran center Nazr Mohammed to the Oklahoma City Thunder for DJ White and Mo Peterson. Going down the stretch, the injuries of Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas killed any chances of Charlotte trying to catch the Indiana Pacers, who swept them 0–4 in the regular season, for the eighth spot in the east. In the end, the Bobcats finished the season with a 34–48 record, finishing 25–29 under Paul Silas.
On June 13, 2011, the Bobcats made some moves to their front office by hiring former Portland Trail Blazers general manager Rich Cho to the same position and promoting Rod Higgins to President of Basketball Operations. On the day of the 2011 NBA Draft the Bobcats once again made a major roster move by sending Stephen Jackson, Shaun Livingston, and the 19th overall pick to the Milwaukee Bucks. In return, the Bobcats received former Duke star Corey Maggette and the 7th overall pick. They used that pick to draft forward Bismack Biyombo and then drafted Kemba Walker, the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player, with the 9th pick in the draft. They also made a few more acquisitions by trading their 2013 second-round draft pick to the Thunder for 7-footer Byron Mullens and signing sharpshooter Reggie Williams in free agency. The Bobcats started the 2011–12 season with a close 96–95 win against Stephen Jackson and the Milwaukee Bucks in their home opener but wins would be hard to come by after that. In the lockout-shortened season the Bobcats struggled and posted an NBA-worst record of 7–59, losing their last 23 games of the season. In a nationally televised game against the New York Knicks the Bobcats recorded yet another loss as their win percentage dropped to .106, setting a new record for the worst season by an NBA team in history. (As this season had been shortened by the lockout, the 1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers still hold the record for most losses in a season, with 73.) On April 30, 2012, the Bobcats announced that Silas would not return to the team for the 2012–2013 season. St. John's assistant Mike Dunlap was named his successor.
Despite having the best odds of winning the draft lottery, the Bobcats did not obtain the first overall pick. In the 2012 NBA draft, the Bobcats selected Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick. They also selected Jeffery Taylor with the thirty-first pick. They added Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions and Brendan Haywood. The Bobcats' first game was against the Indiana Pacers, and they won the game 90–89 in a heated last minute battle, snapping their 23-game losing streak. On November 13, 2012, the Bobcats traded guard Matt Carroll to the New Orleans Hornets for power forward Hakim Warrick. The team seemed to rebound with a 7–5 start to the season in which 6 of the 7 wins were by 4 points or less. However, they promptly went on an 18-game losing streak from which they never recovered, snapping the streak in a victory at Chicago on New Year's Eve. They finished 21–61, the second-worst record in the league. On April 23, 2013, Dunlap was fired, reportedly because the players were turned off by his heavy-handed coaching style. Dunlap would be replaced by former Los Angeles Lakers assistant head coach Steve Clifford.
On May 21, 2013, Jordan officially announced the organization had submitted an application to change the name of the franchise to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014–15 NBA season, pending a majority vote for approval by the NBA Board of Governors at a meeting in Las Vegas on July 18, 2013. Then Deputy Commissioner and COO Adam Silver (now NBA Commissioner) previously said it would take about 18 months for the team to change its name, but pointed out the fact that the league owns the rights to the Hornets name could speed up the process. The New Orleans Hornets had recently changed their name to the New Orleans Pelicans for the 2013–14 NBA season. On July 18, 2013, the NBA announced that it had unanimously approved the decision for the Charlotte Bobcats to take on the Hornets name upon the conclusion of the 2013–14 season.
During the 2013 NBA draft, the Bobcats selected power forward/center Cody Zeller with the 4th overall pick. The Bobcats would also get former Utah Jazz player Al Jefferson during the free agency period.
On November 22, in a widely expected move, the Bobcats announced they will adopt a modified version of the original Hornets' teal-purple-white palette when they become the Hornets, with black, gray and light blue as accents. The team officially unveiled its future logo and identity scheme during halftime of their December 21 game against the Utah Jazz, in a ceremony featuring former Hornets players Dell Curry (now the Bobcats' television color commentator), Muggsy Bogues, Rex Chapman and Kelly Tripucka. The team has started a new campaign to hype up the Hornets' return which is entitled "Buzz City". On January 16, 2014, the Bobcats revealed new Charlotte Hornets logo shirts, hats and gear.
On February 20, 2014, the Bucks traded Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Bobcats for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien. The Bobcats clinched a playoff berth for the second time in franchise history on April 5, 2014, when they won a game on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers. On April 10, 2014, the Bobcats signed forward DJ White for the remainder of the season. The Bobcats finished the 2013–14 regular season 43-39, the second highest number of wins in a single season in franchise history. The Bobcats were swept by the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. The fourth game was also the last game as the Charlotte Bobcats.
On May 20, 2014, the Bobcats officially became the second incarnation of the Charlotte Hornets. At a press conference heralding the change, team officials also announced that as part of a deal with the NBA and the Pelicans, the renamed Hornets reclaimed the history and records of the 1988–2002 Hornets, while all of the Hornets' records during their time in New Orleans from 2002 to 2013 remained with the Pelicans. Charlotte had already been using past footage of the original Hornets era as part of the "Buzz City" campaign. In the 2014 NBA draft, the Hornets had the No. 9 pick from an earlier trade with the Detroit Pistons, which they used to select Noah Vonleh from Indiana. In the same draft they acquired UConn Husky Shabazz Napier (24th overall pick), Dwight Powell from Stanford, and Semaj Christon from Xavier in the second round, later trading Napier to the Miami Heat for P. J. Hairston from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League (formerly from UNC), the rights to the 55th pick (Semaj Christon), their 2019 second-round pick and cash considerations; Powell and Brendan Haywood to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Scotty Hopson and cash considerations; and Christon to the Oklahoma City Thunder for cash considerations. The Hornets then traded guard Scotty Hopson to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for cash considerations.
During the first year of free agency as the reimaged Hornets, the Hornets signed former Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson for three years at $27 million with a team option in the third year. The Hornets also signed former Utah Jazz and Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams to a two-year, $14 million contract. They later added former New Orleans Pelicans guard Brian Roberts, who became the first player in the modern-day Hornets era to play for both the New Orleans Hornets and the Charlotte Hornets. Many pundits are picking Charlotte to be one of the surprise teams for the 2015 season.
Charlotte Hornets roster
|Dick Harter||June 2, 1988||January 31, 1990||122||28||94||.230||122||28||94||.230||0||0||0||–|
|Gene Littles||January 31, 1990||July 24, 1991||124||37||87||.298||124||37||87||.298||0||0||0||–|
|Allan Bristow||July 24, 1991||April 23, 1996||423||212||211||.501||410||207||203||.505||13||5||8||.385|
|Dave Cowens||May 29, 1996||March 7, 1999||191||113||78||.592||179||109||70||.609||12||4||8||.333|
|Paul Silas||March 7, 1999||May 15, 2002||304||172||132||.566||281||161||120||.573||23||11||12||.478|
|Bernie Bickerstaff||October 16, 2004||March 13, 2007||246||77||169||.313||246||77||169||.313||0||0||0||–|
|Sam Vincent||May 25, 2007||April 26, 2008||82||32||50||.390||82||32||50||.390||0||0||0||–|
|Larry Brown||April 29, 2008||December 22, 2010||196||88||108||.449||192||88||104||.449||4||0||4||.000|
|Paul Silas||December 22, 2010||April 30, 2012||120||32||88||.267||120||32||88||.267||0||0||0||–|
|Mike Dunlap||June 18, 2012||April 23, 2013||82||21||61||.256||82||21||61||.256||0||0||0||–|
|Steve Clifford||April 23, 2013||—||86||43||43||.500||82||43||39||.524||4||0||4||.000|
Charlotte Honey Bees
The Hornets also have an official cheerleading squad, the Charlotte Honey Bees. The Honey Bees perform sideline dances as well as center-court dances during games. They also represent the Hornets brand as ambassadors to the community and are involved in community service activities and charity functions.
Uniforms and arenas
The original Hornets uniforms were designed by international designer and North Carolina native Alexander Julian. The team chose teal as its primary color and featured a first for NBA uniforms—pinstripes. While most teams feature team names on home jerseys and the home city on away jerseys, the Hornets' uniforms had "Charlotte" on both home and away jerseys. Home uniforms were white with pinstripes in teal, green, blue and purple, while the away jerseys were teal with pinstripes in white, green, blue and purple. The primary 'Hugo' logo was prominently featured in the shorts' beltline, except during the 1988–89 season.
In 1994, the Hornets unveiled a purple alternate uniform, with pinstripes in white, green, blue and teal. Likewise Hugo was featured in the beltline. The first Hornets set lasted until the 1996–97 season.
From 1997 to 2002, the Hornets made slight changes in their pinstriped uniform. Hugo was moved from the beltline to the left leg, while side stripes with pinstripes were added, in purple (away) and teal (home) colors. A tricolor featuring teal, purple and blue was featured on the beltline and the piping.
From 2004 to 2009, the Bobcats' home jerseys were white, reading "Bobcats" in orange with blue and black trimming. The primary away jersey was orange reading "Charlotte" in white with blue and black trimming. In the 2006 offseason, the Bobcats announced a new alternate away jersey which debuted during the 2006–07 season. The alternate jersey is blue, with the name "Bobcats" in white with black, orange and white trimming. Racing Day blue alternates (with an arched 'Charlotte', checkered flag side stripes, and centered numbers) are used to honor Charlotte's NASCAR fanbase.
For the 2009–10 season, the Bobcats redesigned their uniforms, which have a mixture of characteristics from the old Hornets and the Bobcats uniforms. The home uniforms are white and featured an arched "Bobcats" in blue with orange and white trim. Road uniforms are blue and features the arched "Charlotte" in white with blue and orange trim. Both designs feature silver pinstripes, similar to what the Hornets wore. The NASCAR alternates were also updated to include the pinstripes. For the 2011–12 season, however, the Bobcats wore their home uniforms on NASCAR night, complete with a racing flag patch. The uniforms are similar to that of the Orlando Magic.
The Bobcats unveiled new uniforms on June 19, 2012, featuring less emphasis on orange and the pinstripes. The white home uniforms now feature the shorter nickname 'Cats' in navy and Carolina blue trim, while the numbers are in Carolina blue and navy trim, with navy side stripes. The navy away uniforms still feature 'Charlotte' in white and Carolina blue trim, with the numbers feature the same trim as the city name, with Carolina blue side stripes. In both uniforms, the pinstripes were relegated to the side stripes. The uniforms bear a close resemblance to the Dallas Mavericks uniforms. The addition of Carolina blue was seen as way to connect current owner Michael Jordan's collegiate roots, while the formal adoption of 'Cats' for marketing purposes reflected the team's popular nickname.
On the day the Bobcats officially renamed themselves the Hornets, they announced that they would adopt a modified version of the original Hornets uniforms.
On June 19, 2014, the newly renamed Hornets unveiled the team's new uniforms, consisting of white home and purple road uniforms with the "Hornets" wordmark across the chest. The team also unveiled a teal alternate uniform with the "Charlotte" wordmark across the chest. The teal uniform is planned to be used as an alternate uniform for either home or road games and worn a total of 16-20 times per season.
- Charlotte Coliseum (1988–2002), (2004–2005)
- Time Warner Cable Arena (2005–present), known as Charlotte Bobcats Arena (2005–2008)
The Hornets played their first 15 seasons at the Charlotte Coliseum, which was called "The Hive" by Hornets fans. The Hornets made the Coliseum home from 1988 to 2002. With almost 24,000 seats, it was the largest venue in the league. The Coliseum hosted 364 consecutive NBA sell-outs from December 1988 to November 1997. The Hornets would go on to lead the NBA in attendance over the course of their first seven seasons. When they returned as the Bobcats, they temporarily played in the Coliseum in the 2004–05 season while their new arena (the Charlotte Bobcats Arena) was being built. After its completion, the city closed the old Coliseum in the 2005 offseason and opened the new arena with a Rolling Stones concert.
In April 2008, the Bobcats reached a naming rights deal with Time Warner Cable, the Charlotte area's largest cable television provider. In exchange for the naming rights, Time Warner agreed to tear up the cable television deal that had limited the Bobcats' exposure over the team's first four years.
Franchise records, awards and honors
Individual awards – Charlotte Hornets
- Larry Johnson – 1992
Individual awards - Charlotte Bobcats (2004–14)
|Charlotte Hornets retired numbers|
|13||Bobby Phills||G||1997–2000 *|
- * The Charlotte Hornets retired Phills' number after he was killed in an automobile accident in Charlotte.
Hugo T. Hornet was the original mascot of the franchise, and was retained by the New Orleans Hornets until that team's rebranding as Pelicans. Shortly after the news that the Bobcats would get the Hornets name back, at half-time of a December 21, 2013, game between the Bobcats and the Utah Jazz, Hugo was announced to return as the reborn Hornets' new mascot for the 2014–2015 NBA season. Until then, Rufus D. Lynx was the mascot of the Bobcats. He first appeared on November 1, 2003, according to his official bio on the Bobcats' website. The name Rufus D. Lynx comes from the scientific name of the bobcat, which is Lynx rufus. During the 2012 NBA All-Star Jam Session, Rufus D. Lynx broke a world record along with Coyote, Grizz, Hooper, and Sly the Silver Fox for most "between the legs" basketball dunks. TCHuddle.com ranked Rufus D. Lynx as the 13th best NBA mascot. Bleacher Report ranked Rufus as the 8th best mascot in the NBA. Rufus D. Lynx is featured in NBA Jam 2010. Rufus D. Lynx was officially retired following the conclusion of the 2013–14 NBA season, and the Hornets made him a farewell video on May 2014. The new look Hugo T. Hornet was unveiled on an around the city tour on June 5, 2014.
From 1988 to 1992, the Hornets aired most road games, and occasional home games, on a network of stations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia fronted by WCCB in Charlotte. WCCB's longtime owner, Cy Bahakel, was a minority partner in the Hornets' original ownership group. Starting with the 1990-91 season, several games also aired on the original SportSouth, forerunner of Fox Sports South, for customers in North and South Carolina. WJZY became the Hornets' over-the-air flagship in 1992, and remained as such until 1998. From 1995 to 1998, some games aired on WJZY's sister station, WFVT (now WMYT-TV). WAXN-TV became the flagship for the 1998-99 season, and remained as such until the original team departed in 2002. Generally, most home games slated for telecast aired on SportSouth/Fox Sports South.
When the team returned as the Bobcats in 2004, Johnson partnered with Time Warner to create Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television (C-SET), a regional sports network. It aired 60 Bobcats games that also aired on Comporium Cable in the South Carolina portion of the Charlotte market. However, Time Warner placed C-SET on its digital package as an incentive to try to get customers to switch to its digital service, leaving analog customers in the dark. It also refused to allow DirecTV or Dish Network to pick up C-SET on their local feeds. As a result, Time Warner customers without digital cable, as well as western North Carolina and most of South Carolina, were left to rely on radio coverage.
C-SET folded on the day of the 2005 NBA draft, and most games then moved to News 14 Carolina, a cable news channel available on Time Warner Cable's systems in Charlotte, the Triad and the Triangle. However, this still left viewers in most of South Carolina (except for the South Carolina side of the Charlotte area, which saw games on Comporium) as well as eastern and western North Carolina, out in the cold. News 14 was also not available on satellite.
As part of the Time Warner Cable Arena deal, the Bobcats signed over broadcasting rights to Fox Sports South. Starting with the last five games of the 2007–08 season, about 70 games per season were shown on Fox Sports Carolinas (Fox Sports South's new regional feed) and sister network SportSouth in North and South Carolina. The deal is believed to be the first simultaneous naming rights and broadcast rights deal in the history of North American professional sports. Since the 2008–09 season, all Bobcats games that aren't slated for national broadcast have aired on either Fox Sports Carolinas or SportSouth.
For the team's first four seasons, select games also aired on a network of over-the-air stations across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, fronted by WJZY from 2004 to 2006 and WMYT from 2006 to 2008.
The team's radio flagship is all-sports station WFNZ. Before 2010, games had aired on WOLS. WOLS switched its non-sports programming from oldies to Spanish language on January 1, 2009, making Bobcats and Duke basketball the station's only non-Spanish language programming. WBT was the Hornets' radio flagship during the original franchise's entire run.
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