Charlotte Hornets: Four Key Decisions that Changed the Course of the Franchise

Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Charlotte Hornets Cody Zeller. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte Hornets Glen Rice. (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images) /

Dave Cowens Stepping Down

For the final franchise-changing moment, we are going back to those 90’s Hornets teams that fans still remember fondly. A confident team coming off 105 wins combined over the course of the previous two seasons was no doubt shell-shocked when their Hall-Of-Fame coach suddenly stepped down mid-season.

While the details of Cowens’ departure are multiple murky reports from the time state that he was extremely displeased with his salary. The coach and ownership had what was described as “irreconcilable differences” in the midst of a 4-11 start to Charlotte’s season.

In short, it can be argued that this situation had long term effects on the team. The Hornets failed to make the playoffs that season under the new coach, Paul Silas. Three heartbreaking playoff exits later sent the franchise into a tailspin that only saw two playoff appearances over the course of the following decade.

Can this all be attributed to the Celtics’ great leaving? One thing is for sure; in the short and long term, the Hornets were never able to rekindle that same magic and ferocity that Cowens brought.

It was reported that many players wanted to leave the team during that infamous lockout-shortened, 1998-1999 season. Dell Curry and Glen Rice both departed around this time. The aging Curry signed with Milwaukee while a displeased Rice was dealt to the Lakers.

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A barrage of injuries most notably included double-double machine, Anthony Mason. While Silas was able to muster some respectable seasons from an aging core, the Cowens departure set the tone for the franchise’s mediocrity to come.