COMMENTARY | When the New Orleans Hornets begin play as the Pelicans in the 2013-14 NBA season, the team will end an 11-year run under its current identity. While casual NBA fans may think the Hornets' tenure in New Orleans was characterized by nothing more than losing, the NBA's ownership, and poor attendance, true fans know the team had many exciting players, numerous playoff appearances, and a Southwest Division title.
Take a look back at the Hornets' top five greatest moments in New Orleans.
5. Hornets return to New Orleans for 2007-08 season
It wasn't quite as dramatic as when the Saints reopened the Superdome in 2006. And the Hornets actually played a handful of games in the New Orleans Arena while in Oklahoma City's foster care. However, the Hornets' full-time return to New Orleans proved the team would not relocate and more importantly served as a sign of the city's rebirth.
4. Hornets crush Utah Jazz on opening night in 2002
NBA basketball returned to the Big Easy on October 30, 2002 as the Hornets faced the city's previous franchise, the Jazz, in the New Orleans Arena. If local fans didn't already know, they quickly learned they had a playoff-caliber team from the outset. Baron Davis led the way with 21 points on 10 assists as New Orleans outplayed the Jazz 100-75.
3. Hornets win 2012 NBA Draft Lottery and select Anthony Davis
Admittedly, this moment is still in progress, as time will tell how great Anthony Davis is and if he can turn around the team's fortunes. But judging from how well he has played throughout his rookie season in New Orleans, Davis looks to be a phenomenal talent who should improve even more as he progresses beyond being an NBA teenager.
2. Hornets go 56-26; win 2008 Southwest Division title
If one season stands out in the 11 that the Bees played in New Orleans, this is it. Chris Paul had two seasons of NBA experience and the team also had David West, Tyson Chandler, and Peja Stojakovic on its roster. The Hornets won arguably the best division in the NBA and advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
1. Tom Benson buys Hornets; keeps team in New Orleans
The most embarrassing chapter in Hornets' history ended when Tom Benson purchased the franchise. Benson's ownership ended the debacle of David Stern and the NBA owning the team. This move coincided with the state extending the team's long-term lease agreement. Because it kept the team in the New Orleans, this is the Hornets' greatest moment in the Big Easy.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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