New Orleans Hornets

Sat, 07 Feb 2009 21:04

History of New Orleans Hornets

Information about the NBA team New Orleans Hornets.

Visitors to New Orleans would instantly recognize the city’s love for their basketball club, the Hornets. The New Orleans Hornets was conceptualized in 1985 when the NBA wanted to add new teams to the league. In 1987, the NBA commissioner approved four new teams to play the following season. These were the Miami Heat, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Orlando Magic, and the predecessor to today’s New Orleans team, the Charlotte Hornets. The group was supposed to be called the “Spirits” but was bested by “Hornets”, which was taken from a name-the-team contest.

The Hornets’ first coach was Dick Harter. He tried to take the Hornets to the playoffs as fast as possible. The first Hornets squad had Kelly Tripucka, a former guard of the Detroit Pistons. The Hornets also got Rex Chapman from the recent draft. Chapman was a deadly shooter which helped spread the offense to beyond the 3-point line. The Hornets also had the services of Muggsy Bogues, the 5’3” point guard who was the shortest player ever to play regularly in the NBA. Just like most starting teams, the Hornets had a bad opening season as they posted a 20-62 record.

Stocking up on talent

Their luck did not change with the start of the 1989-1990 season. The team had a 19-63 record, one win short of their previous year. Their record eventually set them up to another trip to the NBA Draft Lottery. In the 1990 NBA Draft, the Hornets selected Kendall Gill. Although the team improved a little, they were still losing thus they were given another draft shot the following year. Luckily, the Hornets managed to get the first overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. They then used this to get Larry Johnson, who provided instant offense for the Hornets. Johnson then won the Rookie of the Year award.

In the 1992-1993 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets owned the second pick which they used to get Alonzo Mourning. With the newly formed group of Mourning, Johnson, and Gill, the Hornets were able to reach the playoffs for the first time. They were able to beat the Boston Celtics in the first round but bowed out to their next opponents, the New York Knicks. As their experience grew, the Hornets were hungry for another run at the playoffs. Yet, the Hornets suffered injuries to Mourning and Johnson, so they were unable to secure their spot as an elite team in the Eastern Conference.

Continuous roster shakeups

Before the start of the 1995-1996 season, the Hornets traded Mourning to get Glen Rice, Matt Geiger, and Khalid Reeves from the Miami Heat. That season, the Hornets had a formidable line-up of Rice, Johnson, and Geiger with budding point guard Kenny Anderson. Yet, they failed to qualify for the playoffs. Trying to improve their luck, the Hornets made big changes in their lineup. They lost Anderson as he did not re-sign with the team but they got Anthony Mason in exchange for Larry Johnson. They also got Vlade Divac from the Los Angeles Lakers when they traded their draft pick, Kobe Bryant.

The team of Divac, Geiger, Mason, and Muggsy Bogues allowed the Hornets to get back to the NBA Playoffs. They lost to the New York Knicks in that season but the team knew it was jut a few players short from becoming a strong Eastern Conference squad. Before the start of the 1997-1998 season, the Hornets acquired David Wesley and Bobby Phills. The team was able to reach the playoffs once again but their dream of reaching the NBA Finals was stopped short by the Chicago Bulls. Knowing that their core group was not enough for the team to win championships, the Hornets traded Glen Rice for the Lakers’ Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell.

The Hornets continued to gain good players as they signed Derrick Coleman from free agency. They also used their draft pick to get Baron Davis. Although the team was working its way to prominence, an unfortunate event happened to one of their key players as Bobby Phills lost his life in a car accident. Playing for their fallen teammate, the Hornets managed to reach the playoffs again but lost to the Philadelphia 76ers. The management then made changes to the lineup as it traded Eddie Jones and Anthony Mason to the Miami Heat for Jamal Mashburn and P.J. Brown.

Moving to New Orleans

Although the team was winning during the early 2000 season, the fan support was lost due to some trouble with the management. This led to the move of the Hornets to the New Orleans area in 2002. In their first match in their new home court, the New Orleans Hornets faced off against the Utah Jazz, the former NBA team to call the area home. The New Orleans Hornets were able to win their first home game against the Jazz. They also managed to get a good winning season going as they secured a spot in that year’s playoffs. However, they were beaten by the Philadelphia 76ers in the post-season.

The New Orleans Hornets were in the playoffs once again during the 2003-2004 season. Facing off against the Miami Heat, the Hornets were favored to win their match-up. However, Heat guard Dwyane Wade proved to be too much for the New Orleans Hornets. He even managed to sink a last second shot in the first match of their series. With these events, the New Orleans Hornets changed their head coach the following year. They hired Byron Scott to replace former coach Tim Floyd. It was also during the 2004-2005 season that the NBA made expansions. Thus, the New Orleans Hornets were moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference.

Injuries to star players such as Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn made the New Orleans Hornets a weak team. At one point during the 2004-2005 NBA season, the New Orleans Hornets had a record of 2-29. Thus, after the end of the season, the New Orleans Hornets traded Davis and Mashburn to get younger players. The rebuilding process had started and they accepted that they will be losing a lot that season. Yet, they were able to secure the fourth pick in the following year’s NBA Draft. With their pick, the New Orleans Hornets chose Chris Paul, their new franchise cornerstone.

The Chris Paul era

Right from the start, Paul would make a significant difference to the New Orleans Hornets. He became the team’s leader and he eventually won the Rookie of the Year award. However, his skill was not enough to send the New Orleans Hornets back to the playoffs. The team was poised for another trip to the draft lottery. In the 2005-2006 season, the New Orleans Hornets made another major lineup change. They acquired Tyson Chandler from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown. They were also able to sign Bobby Jackson, Peja Stojakovice, and Jannero Pargo.

The New Orleans Hornets had a remarkable 2007-2008 season as Chris Paul shined throughout the year. He finished 2nd in MVP voting, just behind Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. The team had the second-best record in the Western Conference but they were ousted out of the playoffs semi-finals by the San Antonio Spurs.