Sunday, November 3, 2013

Remembering the Charlotte Hornets 25 years later: Who are these guys?

Over the last 6 days, we have been chronicling the early years of the Charlotte Hornets franchise as we approach the 25th Anniversary of the team's first game. This time around, we'll talk about the most important thing a franchise needs, a head coach and some players that would make up the 1988-89 edition of the Charlotte Hornets.

Scheer begins an extensive hunt for a coach

Carl Scheer, who was hired as the first general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, would have a plan to look for a coach that would roam the sidelines of the Charlotte Coliseum for the Hornets first season, and after an extensive search, he would select Dick Harter, who was an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers at the time, to be the very first coach in Hornets history.  Harter had a background as an college and NBA coach, first breaking into the head coaching capacity at Rider University for a season, before leaving there to be the coach at Penn, where he spent 5 1/2 years as their coach.  His best years came during his time at the University of Oregon, where his teams were known as the "Kamikaze Kids" from 1971 until the time he left for Penn State University as it's head coach from 1978-83.

Harter made his NBA coaching debut as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons in 1983 and served in that capacity until the 1986 season, where he moved to Indiana to serve as a Pacers assistant coach.  The extensive background that Harter had coaching in college and in the NBA was exactly what Carl Scheer and owner George Shinn had in mind during the search.  With the coach in place, the next thing the Hornets would add on to their list of needs to make the team work, a list of players, in the expansion draft and in the 1988 NBA Draft

Who are these guys?

On June 23, 1988, the Hornets, along with the Miami Heat, led by a group headed by Zev Buffman and former NBA player/coach and Charlotte native Billy Cunningham, participated in the 1988 NBA Expansion Draft.  The players that the Hornets and Heat were going to get came from previous established teams in the league.  Charlotte won the coin toss, allowing Miami to select first in the expansion draft, and Miami would take Arvid Kramer from the Dallas Mavericks.  Charlotte had the next pick in the draft, and the Hornets would select the player that would have a huge impact on basketball in Charlotte, Dell Curry, who was with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Another player that would be an integral part of the Hornets was Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who was picked 6th by Charlotte.  There was a few draft day trades during the expansion draft, and the Hornets were involved in one, as they sent Mike Brown, who was picked 8th by Charlotte, to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Kelly Tripucka.

In all, the Hornets picked 11 players in the expansion draft, and in the NBA Draft, held on June 28th, 1988, Charlotte used the 8th pick in the draft to select Rex Chapman out of the University of Kentucky.  Setting up the inaugural roster for the Charlotte Hornets to take the floor in 1988:

1988-89 Charlotte Hornets inaugural season roster

Forwards(5):
  • Kurt Rambis
  • Tim Kempton
  • Robert Reid
  • Brian Rowsom
  • Tom Tolbert
Guards(7):
  • Muggsy Bogues
  • Rex Chapman
  • Dell Curry
  • Rickey Green
  • Michael Holton
  • Ralph Lewis
  • Sidney Lowe
Centers(3):
  • Earl Cureton
  • Dave Hoppen
  • Greg Kite
The roster is set, the coaching staff has been assembled, and for the Charlotte Hornets, there was only one more thing left to do....play some basketball.  In the 7th and final chapter of this series, we will look back at the day that would live in Charlotte and Carolina sports history forever, as the Charlotte Hornets hit the floor for the first time as a team, as Charlotte would finally make the big time at last on that Friday night in November of 1988.

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