Charlotte Hornets

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Charlotte Hornets
2015–16 Charlotte Hornets season
Charlotte Hornets logo
Conference Eastern
Division Southeast
Founded 1988
History Charlotte Hornets
1988–2002; 2014-present
Charlotte Bobcats
Arena Time Warner Cable Arena
Location Charlotte, North Carolina
Team colors Dark Purple, Teal, Gray, White[1][2]
Team manager Rich Cho
Head coach Steve Clifford
Ownership Michael Jordan
Affiliation(s) Greensboro Swarm (2016–beyond)
Championships 0
Conference titles 0
Division titles 0
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 NBA legend Michael Jordan, who acquired controlling interest in the team in 2010.[3] The Hornets play their home games at Time Warner Cable Arena in center-city Charlotte.

The original Hornets franchise was established in 1988 as an expansion team. The team owned by George Shinn relocated to New Orleans following the 2001–02 season, to become the New Orleans Hornets. In 2004 the NBA established, what was regarded at the time as a new expansion team in Charlotte, the Charlotte Bobcats. In 2013, the New Orleans franchise announced it would rebrand itself the New Orleans Pelicans, ultimately returning the Hornets name, records, and official history from 1988 to 2002 to Charlotte. The Bobcats were officially renamed the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014–15 NBA season.[4][5][6]

Franchise history[edit]

1988–2002: Original Charlotte Hornets/George Shinn era[edit]

1985–1988: Birth of the Hornets[edit]

In 1985, the NBA, then at 23 teams, was planning to expand by four teams by the 1988-1989 season. 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."[7] 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".[8][9] 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.[10] The team's uniforms were designed by international designer and North Carolina native Alexander Julian, and featured a first for NBA uniforms—pin stripes. 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.

1988–1992: Early seasons[edit]

Season tickets for the Hornets' inaugural season.

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.[11] Four days later, the team notched their first-ever victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, 117–105.[12] 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.[13] 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.

1992–1995: Johnson-Mourning era[edit]

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.[14] 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.

1995–1998: Glen Rice era[edit]

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 personnel[edit]

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 team's 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 rookie 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 11th in the league for the season.

In the 2000–01 season, with the additions of Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown 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 29th (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.

Original personnel's relocation to New Orleans[edit]

While the Hornets put a competitive team on the court throughout the 1990s, the team's attendance began falling dramatically. Many attributed this lapse in popularity to the team's owner, George Shinn, who was slowly becoming despised by the people of the city.[15] In 1997, a Charlotte woman claimed that Shinn had raped her, and the resulting trial severely tarnished his reputation in the city. The consensus was that while Charlotte was as basketball-crazy as ever, fans took out their anger at Shinn on the team. Shinn had also become discontented with the Charlotte Coliseum, which, although considered state-of-the-art when it opened in 1988, had by then been considered obsolete due to a limited number of luxury boxes. On March 26, 2001, both the Hornets and the Vancouver Grizzlies applied for relocation to Memphis, Tennessee,[16] which was ultimately won by the Grizzlies. Shinn issued an ultimatum: unless the city built a new arena at no cost to him, the Hornets would leave town. The city initially refused, leading Shinn to consider moving the team to either Norfolk, Louisville, or St. Louis. Of the cities in the running, only St. Louis was a larger media market than Charlotte at the time; also, it was the only one of the four to have previously had an NBA franchise — the St. Louis Hawks, who moved to Atlanta, Georgia in 1968.

Finally, a new arena in Uptown, which would eventually become the Charlotte Bobcats Arena (now known as Time Warner Cable Arena), was included in a non-binding referendum for a larger arts-related package, and Shinn withdrew his application to move the team. Polls showed the referendum on its way to passage. However, just days before the referendum, Mayor Pat McCrory vetoed a living wage ordinance. The veto prompted many of the city's black ministers to oppose the referendum; they felt it was immoral for the city to build a new arena when city employees weren't paid enough to make a living.[17] After the referendum failed, city leaders devised a plan to build a new arena in a way that did not require voter support, but made it known that they would not even consider building it unless Shinn sold the team. While even the NBA acknowledged that Shinn had alienated fans, league officials felt such a demand would anger other owners.[18] The city council refused to remove the statement, leading the Hornets to request a move to New Orleans - a move which would eventually return the NBA to that city since the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1979. Before the Hornets were eliminated from the playoffs, the NBA approved the move. As part of a deal, the NBA promised that Charlotte would get a new team, which took the court two years later as the Charlotte Bobcats.

In a 2008 interview with the Charlotte Observer, Shinn, who has not returned to Charlotte since the Hornets moved, admitted that the "bad judgment I made in my life" played a role in the Hornets' departure. He also said that if he had it to do all over again, he would not have withdrawn from the public after the sexual assault trial. Shinn emphasized how he was making amends by committing to New Orleans saying, "I've made enough mistakes in my life. I'm not going to make one here. This city needs us here. We're going to make this (New Orleans) thing work."[19]

2004–14: Charlotte Bobcats era[edit]

The final logo of the Charlotte Bobcats, used from 2012 to 2014. The original logo, used from 2004 to 2012, was similar, but with orange as the primary color rather than blue.

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.[20] Several ownership groups, including one led by former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird, made bids for the franchise.[21] On December 18, 2002, a group led by Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson was awarded the franchise,[22] allowing him to become the first majority African American owner in U.S. major professional sports since the Negro leagues.[23] The rapper Nelly became another notable co-owner.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26] The bobcat, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, is an athletic, fierce predator indigenous to the Carolinas.[27] 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.[25] There is also suspicion that owner Robert "Bob" Johnson chose "Bobcats" as a play on his name.[28][29]

The Bobcats hired Bernie Bickerstaff as the first head coach and general manager in franchise history.[30] 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.[31][32]

2004–07: The NBA returns to Charlotte[edit]

The Bobcats in a game versus the Dallas Mavericks on November 11, 2005.

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.[33] 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.[34] Two days later, they won their first game in franchise history over the Orlando Magic, 111–100.[35] 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.[36] However, the Bobcats mostly struggled, finishing their inaugural season with a record of 18–64, never winning more than two games in a row.[37] Emeka Okafor put on a strong performance, and won the 2004–05 NBA Rookie of the Year Award.[38]

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.[39]

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.[30] 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.

2007–10: Larry Brown era[edit]

Front office and coaching were key focuses for the Bobcats during the 2007 offseason. Rod Higgins was hired as general manager,[40] and Sam Vincent was hired as the second head coach in franchise history.[41] Phil Ford was added to the coaching staff over the summer,[42] and another position was filled when Buzz Peterson was hired from Coastal Carolina to become director of player personnel.[43] 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.[44] Only lasting a year, in which he struggled with personnel decisions, Sam Vincent was fired on April 26, 2008.[45]

Michael Jordan acquired the Bobcats in 2010.

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.[46] 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.[47] The scheduling conflict forced the Bobcats to play their final four games on the road, virtually ending any playoff hopes. Following the season, Robert L. Johnson announced he was putting the team up for sale.

2009–10: Michael Jordan's acquisition of the franchise[edit]

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.[48]

On April 9, 2010, the Bobcats clinched their first playoff berth since the NBA's return to Charlotte with an exciting 104–103 road win over the New Orleans Hornets,[49] finishing the 2009–10 season with an overall record of 44–38, the first-ever winning record as the Bobcats. Gerald Wallace was a huge factor in the Bobcats run to the playoffs as he became the first player since the NBA's return to Charlotte 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.

2010–14: Final years as Bobcats[edit]

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 D. J. White and Morris Peterson. Going down the stretch, the injuries to Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas derailed any chances of Charlotte trying to catch the Indiana Pacers, who swept them 4–0 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 31st 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.[50] Then-Deputy Commissioner and COO Adam Silver (who is 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.[4] 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.[51]

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.[52][53] 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.[54] The team has started a new campaign to hype up the Hornets' return which is entitled "Buzz City".[55] On January 16, 2014, the Bobcats revealed new Charlotte Hornets logo shirts, hats and gear.[56]

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.

2014–present: New Hornets era[edit]

On May 20, 2014, the Bobcats officially became the second incarnation of the Charlotte Hornets. At a press conference regarding 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 (in a move similar to that of the NFL's Cleveland Browns return to the league in 1999), while all of the Hornets' records during their time in New Orleans from 2002 to 2013 remained with the Pelicans.[6][57][58] Charlotte had already been using past footage of the original Hornets era as part of the "Buzz City" campaign.

To restate and clarify a confusing series of events: after the 2002 season, the original Hornets moved to New Orleans. In 2004, Charlotte was granted a new franchise, the Bobcats. After the 2013-14 season, the Bobcats changed their name to the Hornets and reclaimed the history and records of the 1988-2002 Hornets. As a result, the Hornets are now reckoned as having suspended operations from 2002 to 2004, while the Pelicans are now reckoned as having joined the league in 2002 as an expansion team.[57]

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 renamed 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(eventually traded him later to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for forward Matt Barnes and center Spencer Hawes after his only season with the Hornets). 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.

After the stressful first season as the "reborn" Hornets, the team signed and traded for promising young NBA players such as Nicolas Batum, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb, Tyler Hansbrough, Spencer Hawes and undrafted rookie Aaron Harrison. In the 2015 NBA draft, the Hornets selected college basketball star Frank Kaminsky. The Hornets went 7-1 in the 2015 preseason which included two games in China. Through the first 16 games of the season the Hornets were 9-7, including a 7 game home winning streak. This marked first time they were multiple games above .500 since the 2013 season.


Current roster[edit]

Charlotte Hornets roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
G/F 5 Batum, Nicolas 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1988–12–14 France
G 30 Daniels, Troy 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1991–07–15 Virginia Commonwealth
G/F 19 Hairston, P. J. 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 230 lb (104 kg) 1992–12–24 North Carolina
F 50 Hansbrough, Tyler 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 250 lb (113 kg) 1985–11–03 North Carolina
G 9 Harrison, Aaron (DL) 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1994–10–28 Kentucky
F/C 00 Hawes, Spencer 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) 245 lb (111 kg) 1988–04–28 Washington
C 25 Jefferson, Al 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 289 lb (131 kg) 1985–01–04 Prentiss HS (MS)
F/C 44 Kaminsky, Frank 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 240 lb (109 kg) 1993–04–04 Wisconsin
F 14 Kidd-Gilchrist, Michael 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 232 lb (105 kg) 1993–09–26 Kentucky
G 3 Lamb, Jeremy 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1992–05–30 Connecticut
G 7 Lin, Jeremy 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1988–08–23 Harvard
G 22 Roberts, Brian 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 173 lb (78 kg) 1985–12–03 Dayton
G 15 Walker, Kemba (C) 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 184 lb (83 kg) 1990–05–08 Connecticut
F 2 Williams, Marvin 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 237 lb (108 kg) 1986–06–19 North Carolina
F/C 40 Zeller, Cody 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 240 lb (109 kg) 1992–10–05 Indiana
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • (DL) On assignment to D-League affiliate
  • Injured Injured

Last transaction: 2016–02–01

Head coaches[edit]

Name Start End Totals Regular season Playoffs
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 May 29, 2013 [59] 168 76 92 .452 164 76 88 .463 4 0 4 .000
Totals 1976 855 1121 .433 1920 835 1085 .435 56 20 36 .357

Charlotte Honey Bees[edit]

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.

Logos and uniforms[edit]

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.[60] 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.[61] 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 uniform was also updated to include the pinstripes. For the 2011–12 season, however, the Bobcats wore their home uniform 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. 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 revised 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.[62]

On June 25, 2015, the Hornets unveiled a black sleeved alternate uniform, featuring the "Buzz City" nickname in front. The team plans to wear the uniform for as many as six games during the 2015–16 NBA season.[63]


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.[64]

Franchise records, awards and honors[edit]

Franchise leaders[edit]

Bold denotes still active with team.

Italic denotes still active but not with team.

Regular Season (as of January 4, 2016)




Individual awards[edit]

Retired numbers[edit]

Charlotte Hornets retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
13 Bobby Phills G 1997–2000
  • The Charlotte Hornets retired Phills' number on February 9, 2000 after he was killed in an automobile accident in Charlotte. His jersey hung from the rafters of the Charlotte Coliseum until the franchise relocated in May of 2002. It was displayed in the New Orleans Arena until the franchise became the Pelicans in 2013. On November 1, 2014, his jersey was returned to Charlotte, where it was re-honored and currently hangs in Time Warner Cable Arena.[65][66][67]

Basketball Hall of Famers[edit]

Charlotte Hornets Hall of Famers
No. Name Position Tenure Inducted
00 Robert Parish C 1994–96 2003
33 Alonzo Mourning C/F 1992–95 2014
No. Name Position Tenure Inducted
Dave Cowens 1 Coach 1996–99 1991
Larry Brown 2 Coach 2008–10 2002
  • 1 Inducted as player.
  • 2 Coached the team when they were known as the Charlotte Bobcats.


Hugo in New Orleans

Hugo The 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 halftime 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.[54] Until then, Rufus D. Lynx was the mascot of the Bobcats.[68][69] 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.[70][71] Bleacher Report ranked Rufus as the 8th best mascot in the NBA.[72] Rufus D. Lynx is featured in NBA Jam 2010.[73] 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.[74] The new look Hugo The Hornet was unveiled on an around the city tour on June 5, 2014.[75]

Media coverage[edit]

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-TV (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 (renamed Fox Sports Southeast in 2015) 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.[76] Since the 2008–09 season, all Bobcats/Hornets games that aren't slated for national broadcast have aired on either Fox Sports Carolinas or Sportsouth/Fox Sports Southeast.

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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External links[edit]