October 29, 2014. To most people, this date has little significance. To those in the Carolinas, it is remembered as the day the Charlotte Hornets officially returned to the hardwood with an unforgettable, come-from-behind season-opening victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was also the last time the Hornets were above .500 before Friday night.
That is part of why Friday's 113-88 win over a now 0-13 Philadelphia squad had much more meaning than a blowout over a winless team normal does. For more than 365 days, this franchise has fought to be in this position, to become a relevant part of the National Basketball Association. It was what the team was supposed to be a year ago, but never achieved.
After last season's failure, the roster was blown up. Take a look at the Hornets team from October 29, 2014.
Now let's take a look at Friday's lineup.
That is eight players on the box score who were not on the roster the last time this team had more wins than losses — more than half of their active roster and almost their entire bench. Then, let's consider that six of the 11 teams that Charlotte has played this season have a winning record, including four (Chicago, Miami, San Antonio and Dallas) that have four or less losses this season. How quickly this team has come together is nothing short of astonishing and speaks to the job Steve Clifford and his staff have done.
The biggest change of all, though, may be that this team now is just plain fun to watch. Take another look at the above box scores. The Hornets put up more points in four quarters on Friday than they did in five quarters in the 2014 season opener. Against the Bucks, the team took 21 3-pointers (then considered a lot for the team) and only made 28.6 percent of those shots. Against the Sixers, Charlotte took 25 3-pointers, just below their average of 26.5 attempts for game, and made almost half of those shots. These kind of stats were near unthinkable a year ago. Today? It is the norm.
It is beautiful thing to see the Charlotte Hornets above .500. And the scary part is that they have nowhere to go but up from here.