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INTRODUCTION

New Orleans Hornets, professional basketball team and one of eight teams in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Hornets play in the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. The team played in Charlotte, North Carolina, from 1988 through the 2001-02 season.

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FRANCHISE HISTORY

The franchise joined the NBA as the Charlotte Hornets in 1987 when the NBA board of governors awarded entrepreneur George Shinn the rights to an expansion team. The Hornets were admitted at the same time as the Miami Heat, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Orlando Magic, although the Hornets and the Heat began play a season earlier than the other two teams. In the 1988 draft of college players the Hornets used the eighth pick to select guard Rex Chapman; their picks in a special expansion draft of NBA players included Tyrone “Muggsy” Bogues and guard-forward Dell Curry. The Hornets registered a 20-62 win-loss record in their first season (1988-89) and were led in scoring by veteran forward Kelly Tripucka.

The club posted three more losing seasons in the early 1990s but used its first-round draft picks to build a competitive team. The team’s picks included forward Larry Johnson in 1991 and center Alonzo Mourning in 1992. With Johnson and Mourning in the lineup, the 1992-93 Hornets posted a 44-38 record, the franchise’s first winning season, and earned a trip to the playoffs, becoming the first of the newly added expansion teams to appear in postseason play. The Hornets bested the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs but were then ousted by the New York Knicks.

The Hornets failed to qualify for the playoffs in 1993-94, but they returned to the postseason the next year after posting 50 wins. Johnson and Mourning were both named to the NBA All-Star team in 1994-95, and the Hornets led the NBA in three-point field-goal percentage at .397. The team lost to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Before the 1995-96 season the Hornets traded Mourning to the Heat in a multiplayer deal that brought guard-forward Glen Rice to Charlotte. The Hornets finished sixth in the Central Division that season. In exchange for forward Anthony Mason, the Hornets traded Johnson to the New York Knicks before the 1996-97 season. The Hornets had mixed results in the late 1990s, and during the lockout-shortened 1999 season they traded Rice to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a deal for guard Eddie Jones and center Elden Campbell.

After the 2001-02 season, Hornets officials moved the franchise to New Orleans because of financial problems and the desire for a better home arena. New Orleans had previously been the home of the Jazz, an NBA franchise that moved to Utah in 1979.