Home Town: Charlotte, NC
Owner: Robert Johnson
General Manager: Rod Higgins
Coach: Larry Brown
Home CourtName:Time Warner Cable Arena
Seating Capacity: 19,026
The city of Charlotte's love affair with its first NBA franchise, the Hornets, ended in a messy breakup; rape allegations involving team owner George Shinn turned off many fans, and ultimatums that the city build a new area drove others away. The Hornets, the league and the city eventually struck a deal: Charlotte built a new uptown arena (now known as the Time Warner Cable Center), the Hornets left town for New Orleans, and the NBA promised to replace the team.
Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson outbid several prospective investors and, for the low, low price of $300 million became the owner of the new franchise, which began operations in time for the 2004-05 season. The new team was dubbed "The Bobcats," -- a name, it was explained, that honored a fierce predator native to the Carolinas and matched nicely with the cat-themed nickname of the local NFL franchise, the Panthers. More skeptical observers believed the team name was really intended to honor Johnson's ego... Bobcats... "Bob's Cats," get it?
The new team was led by NBA veteran Bernie Bickerstaff, who initially served as the general manager and coach. Bickerstaff opted not to pursue veteran players in the expansion draft, opting to look for youth and potential. He did find one gem, Gerald Wallace, in the expansion draft, and after acquiring the second-overall pick in the 2004 draft in a trade, added Connecticut's Emeka Okafor. Those two have been the franchises' best players -- Okafor was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 2005, and Wallace is considered one of the games most valuable swingmen.
Unfortunately, subsequent personnel moves haven't worked out nearly as well. The 2005 draft added North Carolina's Raymond Felton and Sean May, fresh off a national championship. In 2006, the third overall pick brought Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. None of the three have developed as hoped -- May and Morrison, in particular, have been slowed by major injuries. Morrison was traded to the Lakers in 2009.
Michael Jordan became a part-owner of the team and the "Managing Director of Basketball Operations" in 2006. Jordan theoretically has final say over all basketball matters, though he has drawn criticism for being something of an absentee landlord. He replaced Bickerstaff with two ex-teammates... Rod Higgins became Charlotte's general manager and Sam Vincent coach. The Vincent hiring didn't work out well; he was replaced by hall-of-famer Larry Brown after just one season.
In early 2009, Johnson reportedly put the franchise on the market and is seeking between $325 and $350 million in a sale -- not a bad return on a five-year investment. Jordan is expected to be one of the bidders.
Conference Titles: None
Division Titles: None
Head CoachesBernie Bickerstaff (2003-07)
Sam Vincent (2007-08)
Larry Brown (2008-present)