In his seven-year NBA career, Tom Tolbert played for good and bad Charlotte Hornets teams. As ESPN's analyst for the Washington Wizards-Hornets telecast at 7 tonight from the Ford Center, he likely will see more bad from his former team, temporarily located in Oklahoma City. Mark Jones will do the play-by-play, and Kara Lawson will be the sideline reporter. A 6-foot-7 forward from the University of Arizona, Tolbert played for the Hornets in their first season as they struggled to a 20-62 record. "We were just beaten to death, and it had nothing to do with injuries,” he said. After stints with Golden State, Orlando and the L.A. Clippers, Tolbert finished his career playing 10 games for the 1994-95 Hornets, which went 50-32 but were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Chicago Bulls. "We had Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Mugsy Bogues,” he said. "We were actually a pretty good team.” This year's Hornets, who started the season with hopes of being a good team, are looking more like an expansion team after injuries to Peja Stojakovic, David West, Chris Paul and Bobby Jackson. "They have just been ravaged with injuries and Chris Paul is obviously the guy that makes everything go,” Tolbert said. "When you have Paul, you have a chance, because he's one of those guys that can make everybody's job a little bit easier and make everybody a little bit better. When you lose him, then you're just done.” The talkative Tolbert, who co-hosts a four-hour afternoon drive talk show in San Francisco, said he won't have any trouble filling time if tonight's game gets out of hand. Among his topics will be Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, another former Arizona Wildcat. "That would have been fun watching him and Paul go at it because Paul excels in the open court,” Tolbert said. "That's all the Wizards do. They just go, go, go and go some more. Gilbert is one of those guys that offensively he is ultra gifted. He can shoot the 3. He has a great first step. He can get to the hole.” Although Tolbert, 41, admits he has had better assignments than tonight's telecast, he said he has nothing to complain about. "I enjoy what I do,” he said. "I have a lot of fun. If I ever find myself complaining about being able to call basketball games and do my radio show for a living, then someone should hit me over the head with an aluminum bat.”
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