In 2004, the Charlotte Bobcats became the 30th organization in the NBA. They are the newest of the 21st century expansion clubs.
While the Charlotte Bobcats history is short, it’s important to the North Carolina fan base, especially since they had lost their beloved Hornets to New Orleans two years prior to the Bobcats expansion into the National Basketball Association.
In 2009-10, the franchise won a team high 44 wins, good for fourth in the Southeast Division, and their first appearance in the NBA playoffs.
While the young team continued to show improvement under the legendary head coach Larry Brown, the off the court news really dominated the media, especially with the announcement that Michael Jordan would purchase the team from former owner, Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television (B.E.T.).
Charlotte Bobcats History: Early Day’s
When the Hornets bolted for New Orleans during the 2002-03 season, the league promised Charlotte leaders that the city would be granted an expansion franchise for the 2004-05 season. Several ownership groups, including one led by former Boston Celtics great Larry Bird, made bids for the team.
However, by December of 2002 the bid was awarded to B.E.T. founder Robert L. Johnson.
The news made several major media shows, as Johnson became one of the first prominent African-American owners in U.S. professional sports.
By June of 2003, the franchise was named the Bobcats over mascot runner-ups the “Flight” and “Dragons.” The mascot name was decided in a vote by fans in the city through The Charlotte Regional Sports Commission campaign to help raise excitement for the new organization. It did, bringing in over 1,200 suggestions.
The Bobcats currently play their home games at Time Warner Cable Arena in uptown Charlotte. Their NBA Development League team is the Maine Red Claws.
Charlotte Bobcats History: 2004-2006
The Bobcats held their expansion draft on June 22, 2004, and picked up such seasoned players as Predrag Drobnjak and talented youngsters such as Sacramento Kings forward Gerald Wallace. The Bobcats also traded with the Clippers in the 2004 NBA Draft in order to acquire Emeka Okafor whose was coming off an NCAA National Championship with Connecticut University.
The pick proved to be a wise one for the Bobcats, as Okafor went on to win the “NBA Rookie of the Year in 2005.” The Bobcats, however, would see very little other success in their first season, as they went 18-64 under the guidance of Bernie Bickerstaff.
In the offseason, the Bobcats drafted two North Carolina players: Raymond Felton and Sean May and proceeded to win eight more games (26-56) than in their inaugural year.
Although still in their infant years, the Bobcats have demonstrated rather sound judgment in the front office – aside from their disastrous third overall pick in the 2006 Draft.
Adam Morrison, a high scoring forward from Gonzaga, was a highly decorated collegiate player and appeared to be the right move for the Bobcats in 2006. Unfortunately, Morrison’s stint with the club was very short-lived and rather unproductive.
Charlotte Bobcats History: 2007-2008
The Bobcats once again improved upon their record from the previous two seasons, finishing the 2006–07 season with a 33–49 record.
On March 13, 2007, Jordan (then The President of Basketball Operations) announced that head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who had guided the team for its first three seasons, would not return to coach the 2007–08 season.
Highly acclaimed coaches like Stan Van Gundy, Paul Silas, Herb Williams, and Mike Fratello were all interviewed for the position, yet the job would later go to undiscovered Sam Vincent, a former assistant with the Dallas Mavericks.
Despite the excitement heading into the 2007-08 season, Charlotte finished with a disappointing 32–50 record. The team, which felt confident the season would end with its first playoff berth, struggled amid rumors of players clashing with the coach. Consequently, Vincent was fired in April of 2008 and replaced by the legendary Larry Brown.
Charlotte Bobcats History: 2009-Present
The “Brown Era” in Charlotte has since been successful. Larry Brown has long been regarded as a rebuilding mastermind, and this job thus far with the Bobcats has not suggested otherwise.
The Bobcats nearly reached the franchise’s first playoff berth during the 2008–09 season, finishing just four games out of eighth place spot with a then team record 35 wins.
The Charlotte Bobcats finished the 2009-2010 season with an overall record of 44-38, setting a record for wins in a season (44) and obtained their first ever playoff seed. Unfortunately, the Bobcats were quickly swept by the Orlando Magic in four games.