The Charlotte Hornets rebound as a sports franchise could have an entire college thesis statement written on it, because what has taken place in Charlotte is one of the most fascinating moments in sports. An entire city revolted against an owner, resulting in a franchise being moved, and when that franchise was replaced it was an inferior product. For over a decade, NBA basketball in Charlotte was considered a joke that only the Los Angeles Clippers could exceed.
Now, in 2016, following their best season since basketball returned, ESPN The Magazine has ranked the Hornets as the sixth best franchise in the NBA and 27th across all of sports. This is a 56 spot jump from last season, and just goes to show how far along this franchise has come in their quest towards relevance.
One of the largest factors in the Hornets jump up the rankings is the affordability of the gameday experience. Charlotte has the second lowest ticket prices in the NBA with the New Orleans Pelicans ranking ahead of them by 40 cents. However, because of special parking deals, ticket packages, and Charlotte’s 30-11 home record last season the Hornets are considered the best ticket deal in not just the NBA, but sports.
Charlotte also earned big points for the stadium experience with their new scoreboard bumping them up a few spots. However, they were docked a few points because fans don’t consider Charlotte as title contenders now, or in the near future ranking in the 100’s of that category, but they rank in the top 55 of everything else. Steve Clifford received praise for providing a consistently good product on the court that fans can expect to at least be competitive.
Looking at all the numbers provided, the Hornets made their jump behind being one of the most affordable deals in the NBA that actually makes the money you spend worth it. They won’t blow fans away in other areas, but when you’re not breaking the bank to go see them that can be overlooked especially when they’re winning as much as they do.
It’s incredible to consider where Charlotte was as recently as last season in the mindset of the NBA, fans, and sports. It appears that the dark era of Charlotte basketball is over. They are once again a respectable franchise that isn’t immediately thought of when the name dysfunction comes up. The future for basketball in Charlotte is bright once again.