November 4th, 1988 was one of the greatest days for sports in the state of North Carolina. That was the day the Charlotte Hornets played their first game at the old Charlotte Coliseum. The Hornets would lose the game 133-93 to the Cleveland Cavaliers, yet that day the city of Charlotte and the rest of the Carolinas were huge winners. The Hornets would sell out that game along with the next 364 home games (almost nine consecutive seasons) and lead the NBA in attendance for seven years in a row.
In 1991, the Hornets were able to bring the NBA All-Star to game to Charlotte and in the 1992-93 season, the Hornets made their first All-Star appearance led by Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Kendall Gill. Things were looking up for the Hornets, but the following season, after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Chicago bulls, Alonzo Mourning was traded to the Miami Heat and it was that trade that seemed to begin the demise of one of the greatest runs of excitement that any franchise in the history of sports has ever had.
The Hornets would continue to be a decent team in the league but the fan base was beginning to grow tired of decisions that owner George Shinn would make, or not make, most notably not allowing Michael Jordan to become part owner of the team. Although the team played well, making the playoffs in the 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 seasons, their attendance fell to 21st and 29th in those seasons respectively and by 2002 it had been announce d that the Charlotte Hornets would be moving to New Orleans leaving the Carolinas without their beloved NBA franchise.
Then came an era the city would like to forget, Bob Johnson and the Bobcats. The city of Charlotte wouldn’t go long without an NBA franchise. Bob Johnson, former CEO of Black Entertainment Television, would bring an NBA franchise back to the city of Charlotte, but It would be the same. The next few years would be filled with horrible draft picks and coaching decisions, lackluster attendance, and the town at odds with another owner. Luckily, this didn’t last long. Michael Jordan came through in the clutch once again, buying the team and vowing to bring competitive, exciting basketball back to the city. Since 2010, MJ has had his ups and downs, but no bigger up than this upcoming Wednesday night.
From Kelly Tripucka to Kemba Walker, from Rex Chapman to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, in 26 years the Hornets have come a long way. From George Shinn to Bob Johnson to Michael Jordan, the direction and future of the franchise seems brighter and more promising now than it did back on November 4th, 1988. Jordan did the right thing deciding to bring the Hornet name back to Charlotte after New Orleans relinquished it and on October 29th, its official. Bobby Phills’s jersey will be retired. The legendary Hornets will be in the building. This will be the return of excitement. The return of the Hornets. Back to where they belong, the city of Charlotte. The return of the purple and teal, the return of Hugo, the return of the hive, the return of the BUZZ!!!
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