By Lorenzo Tanos
Since 2001-02, the Hornets have been based in the Big Easy, New Orleans, but prior to that, the team made its home in Charlotte as one of the NBA's better expansion teams of the late '80s. (That's a lot more than what could be said about the present Charlotte NBA team, the Bobcats.) Here we look back at the 25 seasons of the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, who shall be playing their 26th NBA season as the Pelicans.
1. Who was the Charlotte Hornets' first choice in the 1988 Expansion Draft?
Picking second in the 1988 Expansion Draft, the Hornets chose former Utah and Cleveland reserve shooting guard Dell Curry, who averaged 11.9 ppg in only 16.9 mpg in his first season with the team. In 10 seasons with the Hornets, Curry was used mainly as an instant-offense sixth man, and won Sixth Man of the Year honors in 1993-94, averaging a career-best 16.3 ppg despite not starting a single game. Younger fans may be more familiar with Dell's son, Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry.
2. How many times did the Hornets lead the NBA in attendance while based in Charlotte?
Eight times. Despite going through the same growing pains all expansion teams have to deal with, the Hornets were known for attracting sell-out crowds in their early years. Ironically, the Hornets finished dead last in attendance in 2001-02, the team's final season in Charlotte.
3. Who did the Hornets receive in exchange for Alonzo Mourning when he was traded to Miami for the 1995-96 season?
Alonzo Mourning, who was selected second overall in the 1992 Draft, was part of the Hornets' one-two frontcourt punch with 1991 top draft pick Larry Johnson. Unfortunately, the two couldn't quite get along with each other (they would be central participants in a Miami-New York playoff brawl a few years later, on opposing teams), which is why ‘Zo was traded to the Miami Heat in exchange for Glen Rice, Matt Geiger and Khalid Reeves. Rice made the trade worth it as the Hornets' leading scorer and one of the NBA's top long-distance threats. Geiger was a reliable role player as the new starting center, while Reeves never lived up to his college hype as a backup guard in the NBA.
4. Which NBA Hall of Famer has his number retired by the Hornets despite never playing for the team?
"Pistol" Pete Maravich had his #7 jersey posthumously retired at halftime during the Hornets' first regular season game in New Orleans on October 30, 2002. It's ironic that the team the Hornets faced was the Utah Jazz; Maravich had played for the Jazz back when they were based in New Orleans, and prior to that, he had tallied an unbelievable 44.2 ppg career average playing for LSU in the late ‘60s.
5. Which former Bulls coach took over the New Orleans Hornets for the 2003-04 season?
It's no secret that Tim Floyd's NBA coaching career is far less successful than his at the NCAA level, but in all fairness, he coached some awful Bulls teams from 1998 to 2002, hence his 90-231 (28.0%) NBA coaching record. Floyd had substantially more success with the Hornets, going 41-41 in 2003-04 and making the first round of the Playoffs. Then again, the Hornets started that season out quite strong before floundering, which was why it wasn't surprising to see Floyd fired at the end of the season.
6. What year did the Hornets post their best-ever regular season record, and what was their record?
With Chris Paul starting at point guard and David West putting up career numbers at power forward, the Hornets went 56-26 in 2007-08, their first year back as the New Orleans Hornets after two years under the New Orleans/Oklahoma City banner on account of Hurricane Katrina.
7. Assuming the NBA didn't veto the trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, who would the Hornets have received as part of the three-team swap?
In a controversial move, NBA Commissioner David Stern's advisers decided that the three players the Hornets would receive – the Lakers' Lamar Odom and the Rockets' GoranDragic, Kevin Martin and Luis Scola – were not young and/or talented enough to compensate for "CP3" joining the Lakers. As of now, it's only Odom who has, without a doubt, seen better days in his NBA career. Martin and Scola are having down years of sorts, but are still quite productive. And Dragic has established himself as the Suns' starting point guard following Steve Nash's move to the Lakers.
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