New Orleans Pelicans
Established in 1988, New Orleans Pelicans had their roots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they were recognized as the Hornets. Point guards Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry took the spotlight in their early days. Yet, victories were hard to come by.
With the drafting of Larry Johnson in 1991 and Alonzo Mourning in 1992, a turning point was seen. The team’s first playoff appearance was achieved during the 1992–93 season.
The subsequent years saw the Hornets reaching the playoffs multiple times but never moving beyond the second round.
Baron Davis and Attendance Struggles
The 1999-2000 season witnessed the rise of guard Baron Davis. Five straight postseason appearances were made. Yet, the team couldn’t move beyond a single series win each year.
Off the court, challenges arose. Low game attendance plagued the Hornets. George Shinn, the owner, was at the center of controversy, which included lobbying for a new arena and a televised sexual assault trial (he was acquitted). By 2002, the team was relocated to New Orleans.
Hurricane Katrina and Temporary Relocation
Three years post their move to New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina struck. The damage forced the Hornets to Oklahoma City for two seasons (2005–06 and 2006–07). Returning to New Orleans in 2007–08, the team surprised fans.
With a 56–26 record, the franchise’s first division title was secured. Chris Paul and David West led the team to the conference semifinals.
Ownership Changes and Rebranding
By 2010, financial strains pressured Shinn to sell the team. An unexpected buyer stepped in – the NBA. Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011 following a vetoed attempt to trade him to the Lakers.
In 2012, Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, acquired the Hornets. By 2013, a rebrand was in order. Aligning with the city’s identity, the Hornets became the Pelicans.
Anthony Davis and Playoff Returns
2012 brought another notable event: The NBA draft lottery win. Anthony Davis, selected as the first overall pick, changed the game for the Pelicans. Under Davis, a playoff return was witnessed in the 2014–15 season. But challenges persisted.
The 2015–16 season was marred by injuries, resulting in a 30–52 record. Things looked up in 2017–18 with 48 wins and a significant playoff series win, only to end in the second round.
Trade Controversies and Team Challenges
The 2018–19 season was tumultuous. Davis expressed dissatisfaction, pushing for a trade due to the team’s inconsistency. The requested trade didn’t happen, but it cast a shadow on the team’s performance. The season ended with a 33–49 record.
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