About 25 years ago, the Charlotte Hornets played their first game as an NBA team. Since then, they've undergone quite a few changes—including leaving Charlotte and then being replaced by the Charlotte Bobcats, who are set to become the Hornets again next year—but their back story remains fascinating. Charlotte Magazine just ran an oral history on the first year of the franchise's existence, and it's interesting to hear all of the old owners, coaches, and players talk how the Hornets got their start in 1988.
Some highlights from the oral history:
-Hornets owner George Shinn originally wanted to bring a Major League Baseball team to Charlotte. But when MLB told him the market was too small for a team, he set his sights on bringing an NBA team there.
-The NBA was initially reluctant to put a team in Charlotte. In fact, David Stern didn't even know where Charlotte was back in 1988. But Shinn convinced him—and, more importantly, all of the NBA owners—to give Charlotte a franchise.
-Clothing designer Alexander Julian created the Hornets' first uniforms using teal and purple and let the team use his designs in exchange for ten pounds of North Carolina barbecue every month for two years. "A writer asked me to sum up the whole experience," he says. "I said, 'Well, George got rich, and I got fat. I traded $10 million worth of royalties for a gut.'"
-Cheryl Henson, the daughter of The Muppets creator Jim Henson, created the original Hornets mascot.
-The Hornets selected Dell Curry and Muggsy Bogues in the 1988 expansion draft, two guys who would play for the team for a decade. However, the team's first coach Dick Harter wanted to trade Bogues almost immediately and constantly asked the Hornets management to deal him because of his height.
-The Hornets received a standing ovation from their home fans after losing by 40 points to the Cavaliers during their first regular season game. They also had a parade thrown in their honor after going just 20-62 in their first season.
There's a lot more to know about the Hornets' first season in Charlotte, too. It's pretty cool to see how important the team was to the city, despite their lack of success on the court. To read the full oral history, head over here.
[via Charlotte Magazine]