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New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans (originally named Charlotte) Hornets is a New Orleans (Louisiana) based professional US basketball team. It joined the NBA in time for the1988-89 season, as part of the four team expansion of the league with the Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic.
Within a relatively short period the Hornets assembled a star-quality nucleus of forward Larry Johnson and center Alonzo Mourning, who led the team to the playoffs in only its fifth year. Owner George Shinn hired Carl Scheer as the team's first general manager and named Dick Harter as the Hornets' first head coach. The nickname Hornets was derived from the historic nature of the name and the city of Charlotte.
The franchise has netted a .500 or better winning percentage for 12 consecutive seasons. In 2000 the National Basketball Association returned to the Crescent City as the move of the Charlotte Hornets franchise from Charlotte, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana became official. The New Orleans Hornets play their home games at New Orleans Arena in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. The venue has a seating capacity of 17,200 for basketball.
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's expansion draft picks included Dell Curry of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who developed into one of the NBA's best sixth men. The Hornets also acquired Dave Hoppen from the Golden State Warriors, the Utah Jazz's Rickey Green, and Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who had just finished his rookie season with the Washington Bullets. Charlotte added some experienced bangers to its roster, signing Earl Cureton, 7-footer Stuart Gray, and Kurt Rambis. The Hornets also picked up prolific scorer Kelly Tripucka and smooth guard Robert Reid. Rex Chapman, an outstanding long-distance shooter was also hired.The Hornets began play in the 1988-89 season at the 23,698-seat, $52-million Charlotte Coliseum. The opening-night lineup included Tripucka, Rambis, Hoppen, Reid, and Green. The Hornets' first opponent was Cleveland Cavaliers to which they lost. Charlotte picked up its first victory with a 117-105 triumph over the Los Angeles Clippers.The team struggled through midseason but managed to avoid disaster. They managed a 20-62 record but never won more than two consecutive games. Rex Chapman was the Hornets' second-best average, and ranked third among NBA rookies in scoring, earning a spot on the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The 1989-90 season got off to a stumbling start. The Hornets lost their first five games before defeating the Orlando Magic. With the team struggling and showing no apparent signs of improvement, Coach Harter was fired and replaced by Gene Littles on January 31. Littles didn't do much better, and the Hornets finished at 19-63. The most significant development for Charlotte was the emergence of 5-3 guard Muggsy Bogues, Bogues developed into a unique and productive player, lightning quick and superb with the ball. In 1989-90 Bogues averaged 9.4 points and 10.7 assists for Charlotte while picking off more than 2 steals per contest. The Hornets' fortunes began to improve with the arrival of their next three first-round draft picks: Kendall Gill, Larry Johnson, and Alonzo Mourning. They helped the 1990-91 Hornets to a 26-56 record, a seven-game improvement over the previous campaign. Charlotte played competitive ball and finished November with the first winning month in the team's annals. The Hornets entered December full of optimism but immediately lost 11 games in a row, dashing any hopes for a winning season.
Charlotte continued to improve in 1991-92, putting up a 31-51 record. The team pieced together five consecutive victories and finished February with a 9-4 record, the best month in team history. As the season came to an end so did the good times. Charlotte lost seven of its last eight contests including another five-game losing streak. Nevertheless, the team had posted its most successful season and was beginning to show promise.By the 1996-97 season both Johnson and Mourning had been traded, but Charlotte still looked to be a team on the way up, and the Hornets responded by winning 54 games in 1997.
The 2000-01 produced one of the most exciting and memorable seasons in the Hornet's 13-year history. They surpassed all expectations by putting together the most successful postseason in franchise history and coming within minutes of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. After dominating the Miami Heat in a first-round sweep, Charlotte stretched the second-seeded Milwaukee Bucks to the limit before submitting in Game Seven. The six playoff wins were a franchise record.After moving to New Orleans in 2002 expectations and emotions were high for the Hornets as the team began its first season in the city. Opening night at the New Orleans Arena was a fairy-tale start to the season. The Hornets played the former New Orleans professional team, the Utah Jazz, and won sparking the Hornets 11-0 start at home, the best in franchise history. However, it suffered the rest of the season due to the injuries to its players.
Heading into their final season in the Eastern Conference, the Hornets were ready to start their second season in New Orleans. The dynamic duo of Davis and Magloire lived up to expectations. Davis busted out of the starting gate for the Hornets, leading the team to a 17-7 record over the first month. For leading the Hornets to a hot start, he earned the Play of The Month Award for October/November.Due to Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets were forced to relocate to Oklahoma City and played 36 of 41 home games at the city's Ford Center. With strong play from rookie point guard Chris Paul, third-year forward David West and guard Speedy Claxton, the Hornets finished the season with an overall 38-44 record after winning just 18 games in 2004-05. The team's resurgence was led by head coach Byron Scott, who finished the season fifth in Coach of the Year voting.New Orleans dealt with plenty of injuries in 2006 season, as Stojakovic, who was playing in his first season with the club, missed 69 games, West was sidelined for 30, Bobby Jackson was out for 26, Paul 18 and Chandler nine. West averaged a club-high 18.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, while Stojakovic netted 17.8 per game in the 13 contests he played in.
Head coach Byron Scott is back for his fourth season on the Hornets' bench. Scott guided the club to a dismal 18-64 record 2004-05 and 38-44 mark in 2005-06. Injuries hurt the Hornets big time last season, but Scott did a good job keeping the team in playoff hunt until the final week of the season. With head coached Byron Scott, the New Orleans Hornets have a deep, talented roster this season that wants to prove they can compete with the best.
The roster includes Hilton Armstrong, Ryan Bowen, Rasual Butler, Tyson Chandler, Melvin Ely, Adam Haluska, Bobby Jackson, Jannero Pargo, Chris Paul, Morris Peterson, Peja Stojakovic, Marcus Vinicius, David West, and Julian Wright. Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic headline a talented New Orleans Hornets roster. Add forwards David West and Desmond Mason to the mix, and this is a team that should be in the thick of the playoff race in 2007-08. However, they need to stay away from the injury bug this season. If the Hornets can keep their players on the court and out of the trainer's room, they should be one of the squads vying for the seventh and eighth spots in the Western Conference playoffs.
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