Thunder: Remembering the Hornets
The Hornets were in town Wednesday to play the Thunder, and for the Thursday Oklahoman, I wrote about the massive makeover of the franchise that we once called ours. No player or coach or even owner left from the Oklahoma City days, even though it’s been less than five years since the Hornets left. You can read about it here.
But I got a little melancholy Wednesday and decided to play that Thunder trivia game we played a couple of weeks ago. Name every Hornet who started a game in their Oklahoma City years. There were 22.
I went by memory, and frankly, my memory wasn’t all that great. I came up with 15. If you want to play the game, stop right now and make your list.
Here’s who I remembered:
Chris Paul: I’m sure you’ve heard of him.
David West: Still a ballplaying fool, only now with the Pacers, and we can say we saw his emergence.
PJ Brown: On old favorite of us in the media. He learned everyone’s name in the first couple of weeks and called us by name the entire season. They don’t make many like him. He retired in 2008.
Desmond Mason: The transitional figure in Oklahoma City basketball history. A Hornet and a Thunder. Now retired in Oklahoma City. I’d still like to see him employed by the Boomers in some capacity.
J.R. Smith: Not a ton of these Hornets are still relevant in the NBA. Not that J.R. is, either, stuck in China.
Rasual Butler: Now a Raptor. Here’s a great Rasual Butler story. Some kid from South Africa or some place flew over here just to see Rasual Butler play. Quite a story. So I wrote about it. Talked to the kid, and he said he just became a fan of Butler and had always wanted to see him play. I asked Butler how to explain his popularity with this kid. He looked at me with the straightest face you’ve ever seen and said, “I’ve got fans all over the world.” Serious as a heart attack.
Marc Jackson: I loved Mark Jackson, the big center brought in late in Year 1. What a good guy. Finished Year 2 in OKC and retired.
Speedy Claxton: Great backup point guard to CP3 in Year 1. Played so well he got a new contract with the Hawks. Retired in 2009.
Jannero Pargo: Excellent backup to CP3 in Year 2. Still in the league, with the Hawks.
Bostjan Nachbar: Started 13 games at the start of Year 1, then Mason took over and Nachbar was traded to the Nets in the Marc Jackson deal. Hasn’t played in the NBA since 2008.
Birdman: Chris Andersen started two games and played in 32 before his suspension for drug use. The Hornets people kept telling us we weren’t seeing the real Birdman. Turns out, they were right. Still wreaking havoc for the Denver Nuggets.
Peja Stojakovic: Almost didn’t remember Peja, he was here such a short time. Played 13 games, then had back surgery. Helped beat the Thunder last season with the Mavs in the Western Conference finals.
Linton Johnson: Don’t ask me why I remember Linton Johnson. I just do. Came over in that Net trade. Last played in 2008-09, with Chicago.
Aaron Williams: Maybe my personal favorite Hornet. The A-Train could dunk. I don’t mean spectacular dunks. I mean, when he got a chance to dunk it, he did. Nazr Mohammed ought to try it sometime. Williams now is an assistant coach at his alma mater, Xavier.
Tyson Chandler: I almost forgot him, even though he was a big-time player in Year 2. And almost came back to us, in that Thunder/Hornets trade that the Thunder backed out on. Now a Knickerbocker.
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