The Charlotte Hornets: A Fan’s Perspective

Darryl Rice
NBA Analyst

"I'm just here so I won't get fined."

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Say It Ain’t So

What’s good y’all! What a time to be alive! I’m here so I won’t get fined and so far so good! I’m currently loving NBA ball, and if you’re not, I feel bad for you. The more ball I watch, the more I get excited about this series of articles, and I’d be stupid if I didn’t write about Charlotte immediately. Charlotte is the truth. Don’t be a fool and say they aren’t.  Let’s break this team down from a fan’s perspective and decide for ourselves, shall we?

True story. Back in the day, the best article of clothing you could have were the Reebok Classic Nylons (any color) for about $30 and a starter jacket that cost about $50. The starter jacket could be ANY team,  it just had to be a legit starter jacket. I went almost a whole year without having one. I had no drip, and I was depressed, but then Christmas came. It was time to unwrap presents and lo and behold, I unwrapped the turquoise Reebok Classics, along with this turquoise Starter jacket with Charlotte on the front. Here’s the exact get up.

Man, I came back from Christmas break with this get-up and some all white Levi’s skinny jeans; (yes skinny jeans were a thing in the 90’s) you couldn’t tell me nothing!

I loved the jacket because no one else had the Hornets. At the time, it was a bunch of Bulls and Raiders gear, I blame Jordan. I immediately fell in love with this jacket. It was by far, my favorite gift but there was something more to this jacket. Yes, I immediately became part of the cool kids. Yes, I officially had drip but do you know who I was reppin?

The Hornets have superstar history and I lived right smack dab in the middle of it. I loved this jacket because I was a fan of one of the greatest Hornets players (at the time) Larry Johnson. You may know him as Gramama.

Let’s get serious for a minute. Aside from the damn big mama costume, this man was a beast. Watch his dunk contest closely. Yes this is ancient history to some of y’all, but the ease of the dunks during this time was mind-blowing.

The man is 6’7. A solid 6’7 with Dwight Howard shoulders. The man makes Barkley look like JJ Barea and he had hops like Airplane Mode. How was he in the 90’s?

While we’re talking top billing, you may remember this young guy at the time. We call him the original Zo.

When you combine two alphas with Dwight Howard shoulders, you inevitably get this.

TL;DR the Hornets have been bad for a long time after this.

Fast Forward 2021

Enough of memory lane. Let’s break this organization down for the common folk like me. The Hornets are legit y’all. James Barrego has a brilliant mind and is the truth. The Hornets are a team who could be a force in the next five years. I personally feel five years is a stretch because no one knows what will happen, there’s always so many moving parts, moving in real time. Before I state the good, let’s just talk about the bad. LaMelo should be a starter. He’s earned it. This creates problems for Terry Rozier. If LaMelo takes that role as starter don’t be surprised if he’s not on the team for long. I think James is gonna go with LaMelo and it may create a problem, but this is the only “major” problem I see. Aside from the bad, we have to look at the good as a fan. This team is a playoff team, bottom line! The Hornets beat playoff teams with ease.They went 3-0 against Miami, Milwaukie, and the Pacers. Winning games in the NBA is hard, but winning three games in a row against playoff teams is even harder.

LaMelo is the real deal. He has better vision on the court. It’s precisely why he and Myles Bridges are having a real-time on the court bromance. LaMelo creates opportunities for other players, but he definitely has a sweet spot for Bridges. 

Gordon is having a great year while he’s simultaneously making huge profits by betting on himself. I believe this is because of what LaMelo is doing. One person looking a little frustrated on the court is Graham. He’s looking like he is forcing the team into offensive schemes when calling plays. It looks as if he’s calling plays for himself verses calling plays that help the team as a whole. He doesn’t command the presence and respect that LaMelo has. It can almost explain why he’s playing so well. He’s betting on himself. Scary Terry is experiencing a Boston 2.0 scenario. We can get thick in the weeds with this, but it ultimately seems as if he’s being phased out. I believe we will know the truth once he’s healthy. Does he stay benched, Does he start? All I see is Celtics 2.0. I believe once again we will see Scary Terry betting on himself.

Let It Be Known

The Hornets are playing with that same 90’s pizzazz. They are scoring at ease. Running set plays at ease and making defenders play the arc. I haven’t seen one opponent be lazy on defense with this team. If you’re lazy, you will pay.

Let it be known that LaMelo became the youngest player to have a triple double in the NBA. When you have a player of this caliber, you must play him! Everything is on the job training with LaMelo. Play him until the wheels fall off. He makes every player better. He has a connection with Bridges. Hayward is making shots, and the team is winning games without being at full capacity! Barrego is the perfect coach coming from the Popovich tree. He will get the maximum potential out of his players because his system is easy to purchase. If you look at it, Devonte’ Graham is playing good ball. I believe it’s because of the competitive nature of that squad. Everyone wants to be the alpha but it’s clearly going to be a Ball and Bridges team at this point. This team has nothing but upside. 

Don’t Sleep

In conclusion, this team is set to be a competitor. Work is needed for this team to be ready as a viable competitor in the postseason, but I feel the right pieces are in place for them to win sooner than later. As a fan I’d be optimistic here. As a fan I love how young my team is. The Hornets possibly got the biggest steal in the draft and only time will tell. Wiseman is making a case, as well as Tyrese Haliburton. All in all, this team is ready to win. All they need is chemistry!

Don’t forget to wash your damn hands.