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The Rundown v110221 – Hornets Have the Queen City Abuzz After Two Decades

All summer long, I went back and forth in my head about doing a piece on why Michael Jordan and his revolving door of general managers haven’t been able to put together a team that would have Charlotte Hornets fans abuzz today like they used to be when it was David Wesley, Bobby Phills, Glen Rice, Dell Curry, and Vlade Divac.

A time when they actually drafted Kobe Bryant, and a few years later, Baron Davis.

But things changed in January 2000, when Wesley and Phills were driving erratically through the Charlotte area, and Phills lost control of his Porsche, and lost his life spinning out of control and crashing at over 100 mph. 

The Hornets would never be the same. They eventually became the Charlotte Bobcats, pseudo-named after then-owner Robert Johnson (also owner of BET).

Beginning with the 2004-05 season with Emeka Okafor, Cory Alexander, and Gerald Wallace as their core, the re-branded team underwhelmed for nearly a decade before finally getting back to post-season play in 2009-10, then in 2013-14, and most recently in 2015-16, branded again as the Charlotte Hornets.

Though new folks were on the team – like D.J. Augustin, Nazr Mohammed, Stephen Jackson, Tyson Chandler, and Raymond Felton were on the roster in 2009-10, they were swept by Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, and Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic.

Their next two appearances were also sweeps, now at the hand of the Miami Heat in both 2013-14 and 2015-16. The first sweep was at the hands of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh in their final season together, and the second was with Wade and Bosh and Joe Johnson, in the draft year of #VFL Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.

Fast forward to 2020-21, and the ping pong ball bouncing to just the right opportunity after former general managers Rod Higgins and Rich Cho tried their hand at the job, Mitch Kupchak was hired and – voila – proper decisions are being made in the Queen City.

LaMelo Ball is selected, Gordon Hayward is traded for (though I still think he should have gone to Indiana), and the city is abuzz once again, as the Hornets sit in the thick of the Eastern Conference pack at 5-3.

Their five game swing out west should measure how genuine this team is in its start, or if they’re more a harmless carpenter bee than a Hornet:

  • Golden State Warriors – Wednesday
  • Sacramento Kings – Friday
  • Los Angeles Clippers – Sunday
  • Los Angeles Lakers – Monday
  • Memphis Grizzlies – Wednesday

While the Warriors game will be a solid initial test, the real test comes on Sunday and Monday, when the Hornets play both L.A. teams on back to back nights. 

We’ll revisit the Hornets’ success rate once they’ve been tested  in 10 days.

Until then, enjoy the buzz.

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THE RUNDOWN:

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PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS   103   PHILADELPHIA 76ERS   113
Norman Powell – 22 points

Jusuf Nurkic – 9 rebounds

Damian Lillard – 10 assists

Seth Curry – 23 points

Andre Drummond – 15 rebounds

Andre Drummond, Tyrese Maxey – 7 assists

NEXT UP
Cavaliers at Trailblazers – Wednesday
Bulls at Sixers – Wednesday

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SAN ANTONIO SPURS   118 INDIANA PACERS   131
Dejounte Murray – 16 points

Keita Bates-Diop – 7 rebounds

Derrick White – 7 assists

Domantas Sabonis – 24 points

Domantas Sabonis – 13 rebounds

T.J. McConnell – 10 assists

NEXT UP
Mavericks at Spurs – Wednesday
Knicks at Pacers – Wednesday

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CLEVELAND CAVALIERS   113 CHARLOTTE HORNETS   110
Jarrett Allen – 24 points

Jarrett Allen – 16 rebounds

Ricky Rubio – 8 assists

LaMelo Ball – 30 points

Miles Bridges – 9 rebounds

Miles Bridges – 8 assists

NEXT UP
Cavaliers at Trailblazers – Wednesday
Hornets at Warriors – Wednesday

********************

TORONTO RAPTORS   113   NEW YORK KNICKS   104
O.G. Anunoby – 36 points

Fred VanVleet, Precious Achiuwa – 9 rebounds

Fred VanVleet – 8 assists

R.J. Barrett – 27 points

Mitchell Robinson – 12 rebounds

Immanuel Quickley, Julius Randle – 5 assists

NEXT UP
Raptors at Wizards – Wednesday
Knicks at Pacers – Wednesday

********************

WASHINGTON WIZARDS   111 ATLANTA HAWKS   118
Bradley Beal – 24 points

Montrezl Harrell – 8 rebounds

Spencer Dinwiddie – 10 assists

Trae Young – 26 points

Clint Capela – 12 rebounds

Bogdan Bogdanovic, John Collins, Trae Young – 6 assists

NEXT UP
Raptors at Wizards – Wednesday
Hawks at Nets – Wednesday

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CHICAGO BULLS   128 BOSTON CELTICS   114
DeMar DeRozan – 37 points

Nikola Vucevic – 10 rebounds

Nikola Vucevic – 9 assists

Jaylen Brown – 28 points

Al Horford – 10 rebounds

Dennis Schroder – 5 assists

NEXT UP
Bulls at Sixers – Wednesday
Celtics at Magic – Wednesday

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DENVER NUGGETS   97 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES   106
Nikola Jokic – 23 points

Aaron Gordon – 10 rebounds

Nikola Jokic – 7 assists

Ja Morant – 26 points

Kyle Anderson – 9 rebounds

Ja Morant – 8 assists

NEXT UP
Nuggets at Grizzlies – Wednesday

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ORLANDO MAGIC   115 MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES   97
Cole Anthony – 31 points

Wendell Carter – 14 rebounds

Cole Anthony – 8 assists

Anthony Edwards – 24 points

Karl-Anthony Towns – 16 rebounds

Karl-Anthony Towns – 6 assists


NEXT UP
Celtics at Magic – Wednesday
Clippers at Timberwolves – Wednesday

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OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER   94 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS   99
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – 28 points

Mike Muscala, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon – 7 rebounds

Josh Giddey – 7 assists

Paul George – 32 points

Isaiah Hartenstein – 12 rebounds

Paul George – 7 assists

NEXT UP
Clippers at Timberwolves – Wednesday
Thunder at Lakers – Thursday

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Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for BackSportsPage.com.
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show, NBARadioShow.com, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  

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