2. Grandmama (aka Larry Johnson)
Did your favorite team have a player who was possibly better known for his cross-dressing alter ego? I didn’t think so. Grandmama was a character Larry Johnson played in a series of popular Converse commercials. It was such a hit he even appeared on Family Matters as Steve Urkel’s teammate (in full Grandmama regalia). Larry Johnson (as himself) also appeared in the movies Space Jam and Eddie, both of which are cinematic pieces of genius.
I don’t think it would be too much to ask for a halftime featuring Grandmama and Hugo in a dunk competition.
3. Hugo The Hornet
Hugo is by far the most awesome mascot to ever grace the NBA. He had kick ass dance moves. He was designed by Jim Henson’s daughter. Plus he was given the name Hugo a year before Hurricane Hugo hit North Carolina! That’s one powerful teal and purple bug.
Hugo also won best mascot in the NBA for two years, as voted on by Inside Stuff Magazine.
Plus, who can forget the story of the kid who pooped all over him?
4. Super Hugo
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Super Hugo, Hugo’s alter ego (the Hornets really liked their alter egos, didn’t they?) who would come out at halftime and do all sorts of trick shots and acrobats that would blow an 8-year-old’s mind.
Super Hugo (also known as Air Hugo) is a three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion. He is also known as the inventor of such classic moves as the Flip Dunk, Helmet Dunk, and Bug on the Windshield Dunk.
5. Dell Curry
Dell Curry is an original Hornet who played in Charlotte for 10 years and ranks with the franchise’s all-time leaders in games played, points, three-point field goals made and attempted, and three-point field goal percentage. He also won the NBA’s Sixth Man Award for the 1993-94 season. If there had been an award for sweetest goatee, he probably would have won that too.
Curry still lives in Charlotte and is a commentator for Bobcats broadcasts. I don’t think it would be out of the question to see him come back in some form for the “new” Hornets.
6. Teal And Purple Pinstripes
Oh. My. God. Seriously. Have you ever seen a more gorgeous uniform than this? Who doesn’t look good in teal and purple? I don’t know about you, but teal and purple really brings out the color of my eyes.
The Hornets uniform is iconic and was recently ranked as one of the top 10 uniforms of the 1990s. The Hornets were also one of the first teams to go with an actual designer, Chapel Hill raised Alexander Julian to get the sweet look.
7. The Hive
If you lived in North Carolina during the 90s odds are you attended a Hornets (or Sting) game here, at the Charlotte Coliseum, affectionately called “The Hive” (RIP, old friend, RIP). When it opened in 1988 it was the largest venue in the league and also the largest basketball specific arena to be the full time home to an NBA team. It boasted 364 consecutive NBA sell outs between December 1988 to November 1997.
8. The Hornets Nest
Let’s be honest, the name “Hornets” has always belonged in Charlotte and never belonged in that other place (sorry New Orleans, y’all enjoy your Pelicans…hahahaha). The nickname came from British commander Charles Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War when he called Charlotte a “hornets nest of rebellion.” Mecklenburg County (home of Charlotte, for those who aren’t up on their NC geography) was also the first county in the United States to declare its independence from Britain.
Charlotteans are, and have always been, a feisty bunch (as the recent grassroots campaigns to bring back the buzz have shown).
9. A Loyal Fanbase
For their inaugural season, a season in which they had a record of 20-62, the Hornets were the NBA Attendance Champions (a feat they would repeat seven more times). It didn’t necessarily matter that they weren’t winning games. There was something about them, about the players, about the atmosphere, about the team that was unlike anything else. Going to a Hornets game in the early and mid-90s was akin to a religious experience.
10. Muggsy Bogues
I saved the best for last. If you can think of anyone more awesome in the NBA during the early 90s than Muggsy Bogues you’re just wrong (and no, MJ doesn’t count). Muggsy was 5’3 and still managed to block 39 shots during his NBA tenure (even one on Patrick Ewing!). Muggsy was electrifying to watch, and as a short little girl with a love affair with basketball, he gave me hope that size didn’t matter as long as you had heart. Muggsy also joined his friend Grandmama in Space Jam and Eddie. He is a crossover talent and a national treasure deserving of a statue somewhere. C’mon Charlotte, let’s make that happen, shall we?
Full Disclosure: I’m horribly biased as my signed Bogues Hornets jersey is, without question, my most prized possession.
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