USA Today runs a feature in which it picks the top five players for a particular NBA franchise. Today the newspaper picked the top five Charlotte Hornets of all time. Chris Paul, the great point guard for the New Orleans Hornets, also chose his top five, as did readers.
None of them got it right, although Paul at least had the insight to include Muggsy Bogues. The newspaper did not. Glen Rice made the newspaper’s team, as did Jamal Mashburn.
Rice and Mashburn passed through. You have to pick the players that stayed and made a difference. You can not pick an all-time Hornets team without including Bogues and Dell Curry. Ask anybody who was there.
It’s not simply about big names. It’s about heart and soul and who gave shape to an expansion team that Charlotte embraced like no other professional franchise, not even the Carolina Panthers. Those of us who wrote about the team were, for the most part, covering our first professional team and had no idea how special the Hornets were. The Hornets didn’t, either.
My team is Bogues and Curry, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Baron Davis. And if I could find a way to put Kenny Gattison on it, I would. I’m still trying.
NBA interest has faded
Speaking of the NBA, I’m a longtime fan. But I admit my interest in the league has faded. I knew that for sure when I was talking not long ago to a friend who also is an NBA fan. He loves the Boston Celtics and I love the Phoenix Suns and they had played a late game the night before.
I wanted to rip him about Boston’s embarrassing performance and he wanted to rip me about Phoenix’s pitiful work. The problem was, neither of us stayed up to watch and neither of us cared enough to check the score that morning. We still ripped each other on principle but we lacked facts.
And then came last night. I want to a Washington D.C. sports bar to try to catch the Charlotte-Nebraska NIT game. I don’t know where fans of the 49ers in the D.C. area gather to watch NIT games, but it wasn’t this place.
The Washington Wizards-Orlando Magic game was on, however, and it was compelling. Watching Antawn Jamison, the former Providence high and North Carolina star who is one of my favorite players, was mesmerizing. He would swoop to the hoop, dive to the floor, jump, run and hustle, and those odd Washington uniforms that make the players look like members of a dance troop detracted not at all.
Back and forth the teams went, the game coming down to the final shot and the Wizards, improbably, winning at the end and on the road.
It reminded me why I fell in love with professional basketball.
There is hope.