Oct 29, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; The basketball court for the Charlotte Hornets sports the new logo before the opening home game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Number 2: Larry Johnson
Pick: 1st Round, 1st Pick
The arrival of Kendall Gill marks the beginning of the turnaround for the Hornets, but another pick stepping stone was the selection of Johnson, who was fresh off dominating college basketball with the UNLV Rebels. Johnson was undersized for a power forward at only about 6’6” but made up for it with athleticism and leverage. In that way he was like similarly sized Charles Barkley.
Johnson had a huge impact on the Hornets off the court as well as on. His ‘Grandmama’ shoe commercials were the stuff of the legend. Johnson was also part of the cast of the Michael Jordan movie ‘Space Jam.’
On the court, Johnson was part of the first playoff bound Hornets team in 1993. Paired with Alonzo Mourning that season, the two proved to be a menace to other front courts in the league. They took down the Celtics and became one of the better NBA Jam combinations.
Johnson also famously signed the first big contract in Hornets history, when signed for $84 million for 12 years. That $7 million a year figure is small now (Marvin Williams makes as much), but it was a big statement back in 1993. It also may have been part of the reason that Johnson was dealt to the Knicks for Anthony Mason in 1996.
Johnson averaged 19 points and nine rebounds over his five years in Charlotte. He was twice named to the Eastern Conference All-Stars. His monster 1992-3 season saw him average 22 points and ten rebounds. He would play five more years for the New York Knicks.