Looking back at the history of the Charlotte Hornets, Kelly Tripucka was actually the team’s first star player,
Throughout the course of the Charlotte Hornets’ history, the team has had many talented players play for them. However, after the team was founded, there was one player who was the team’s first star player.
When the Hornets finally joined the NBA, fans were super excited for basketball in Charlotte. While the team had little success in their inaugural season, one player saw one of the best seasons of his career.
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After having one of the worst seasons of his career, Kelly Tripucka was traded to the Hornets in 1988; The Utah Jazz sent Tripucka to Charlotte in exchange for Mike Brown. In his first season with the new team in Charlotte, Tripucka had a strong comeback year.
Upon arriving in Charlotte, Tripucka was the player selected to unveil the Hornets’ jerseys for the inaugural season. Tripucka was a two-time All-Star and one of the players that fans had high hopes for.
Fans did not know what to expect from the roster that was assembled, but after being traded to Charlotte, Tripucka emerged as the Hornets’ best player during their inaugural season. Tripucka finished the 1988-89 season by averaging 22.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
During his first year with the Hornets, Tripucka saw a lot of playing time. He started in 65 of the 71 games that he played in and averaged 32.4 minutes per game. Following his first season in Charlotte, Tripucka was not selected for any awards or honors.
Tripucka led his team in scoring and was a huge reason why they managed to win the games that they won. During the 1988-89 season, Tripucka finished with three 40-point games.
At that time, Tripucka was the Hornets’ best player. In all, Tripucka was the first Hornet to ever finish a season by averaging 20+ points per game. However, following the first great season in Charlotte, his numbers dropped in the following two seasons.
While he was a consistent scorer, Tripucka was not known as a great three-point shooter, as he finished his three seasons in Charlotte by only making 83 threes. A majority of his scoring came from his efficient two-point scoring.
Tripucka finished his first two seasons in Charlotte as a continent starter, before playing the last year of his career by coming off of the bench. After spending three seasons in Charlotte, Tripucka averaged 14.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.
When looking back at the team’s history, Kelly Tripucka could be one of the Charlotte Hornets’ forgotten heroes. His electrifying play brought a lot of excitement during the Hornets’ first season.