Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Remembering the Charlotte Hornets 25 years later: The game that signaled the birth of "Hornets Hysteria"

As we continue to look back at some of the memorable moments from the Charlotte Hornets first season 25 years ago, we'll be looking back at an historical moment that changed the team, and the city of Charlotte forever 25 years ago yesterday, as "Hornets Hysteria" would be born with a game against North Carolina's native son, who would eventually be the man that would own our current NBA team and the driving force behind our city bringing the "Hornets" name back next season.

The game that marked the birth of "Hornets Hysteria"

It wasn't a typical Friday in Charlotte on that day back on December 23rd, 1988, it was just 2 days before Christmas, and thousands of people living here at that time were just busy getting their Christmas shopping done, while others were either flying in or flying out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to visit family and friends, and for the Charlotte Hornets, who were 6-17 at the time, they were hard at work preparing for their match-up against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in what would be Jordan's first professional game in his home state before a crowd of 23,388 at the Charlotte Coliseum and a national television audience on SuperStation WTBS.

The Hornets were down 85-77 to the Bulls, who were led in scoring by Jordan, who had 33 points, and with time running out, everyone inside the Coliseum was hoping for a little early-Christmas present, and Kurt Rambis would be the man that head coach Dick Harter would look to, as Charlotte was tied with Chicago at 101-101, setting the stage for a thrilling finish at "The Hive", and to simply put it, it was truly alive and well that night with just a few seconds left in regulation, as both teams, and those attending the game, watching it on television, or hearing the game on the radio, were on pins and needles as the Hornets needed just one shot to win the game or settle it in overtime, but Rambis was all in, and he wanted to go for the win.

Rambis would recover the loose ball and would tip it in at the buzzer, for the first last-second win in franchise history, and everyone inside the building would shout in jubilation, as the Hornets would get what would become one of their signature wins in their first season in Charlotte, defeating the Bulls 103-101 and from that game on, "Hornets Hysteria" was everywhere throughout Charlotte and the Carolinas, as the game that night would make the Charlotte Hornets a household name, while the Charlotte Coliseum would be packed night in and night out for 364 consecutive games.

The way I see it, "Hornets Hysteria" was simply put, something this city needed that day, as it would be an early-Christmas present for the residents of 350,000 people living here at that time who were busy preparing for the holidays, and it was all over our city, as fans wore everything purple and teal and talked about it at work, in sports bars, and everywhere else around our city, as well as throughout North and South Carolina, as people finally took notice about the Charlotte Hornets and adopting them as their hometown NBA team during the first season, and that is something that we are looking forward to recreating next season, when the Bobcats officially change its name to the Hornets for the 2014-15 season and beyond.

"Hornets Hysteria" was indeed another great moment in the first season of the 1988-89 Charlotte Hornets, as we continue to look back at some of the moments from the team's first season 25 years ago and looking ahead to the return of the Hornets next season.