A Charlotte Guide to ESPN’s Bulls Doc

Four things to know about the 1997–98 Hornets
Screen Shot 2020 04 21 At 7.50.04 Pm

The Last Dance, the docuseries that debuted this week on ESPN, centers on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, the last of six NBA Championship Bulls teams led by North Carolina native Michael Jordan—now the principal owner of our very own Charlotte Hornets. So how did the Hornets—the O.G., Shinn-owned, pre-move to New Orleans, pre-Bobcats, pre-uptown arena version—do that season, anyway? Below, four things to know about that team:

The Roster
Fan favorite Muggsy Bogues was traded to the Golden State Warriors early in the season, the team’s 10th, for B.J. Armstrong (who played for the Bulls’ first three championship teams in the ’90s). Also on the Hornets’ roster: Vlade Divac, Anthony Mason, and Dell Curry, whose young sons—Seth and Steph—were students at Christian Montessori School of Lake Norman. Head coach Dave Cowens was in his second of three seasons.

The Record
The team finished 51-31, third in the Central Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks in the first round but lost to the Bulls in the conference semifinals, losing two of those games at the Charlotte Coliseum. (The arena was demolished in 2007.)

> Read our oral history of the Hornets’ first season here.

The Hornets led the league in home attendance for eight of its first nine seasons. It was second in ’97-’98, behind—you guessed it—the Bulls. The Hornets’ monster, consecutive sellout streak of 364 games ended in November 1997. At the time, the Associated Press reported that this was the second-longest streak in the NBA—behind, again, the Bulls, who were on a 610-game run.

Charlotte in 1998

  • The population of the Charlotte Metro Area was 1,350,000. Today, it’s 2,637,000.
  • The Carolina Panthers were only 3 years old. The Charlotte Knights were in their last season as an affiliate of the Florida Marlins, switching to the Chicago White Sox in 1999.
  • Pat McCrory was mayor and is the most recent Republican to hold the office.
  • Bank of America was formed that year, after NationsBank acquired BankAmerica.
Categories: The Buzz