The New Orleans Hornets are a professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. They play in the Southwest Division of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The franchise began play during the 1988–89 NBA season as the Charlotte Hornets, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they were located until the end of the 2001–02 NBA season.
In 1985, the NBA was planning to expand by four teams. George Shinn, an entrepreneur from Kannapolis, North Carolina, wanted to bring an NBA team to the Charlotte area and he assembled a group of prominent local businessmen to head the prospective franchise.
Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County had long been a hotbed for college basketball. The four North Carolina schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference, in addition to three local college teams (the Charlotte 49ers, Davidson Wildcats, and the Johnson C. Smith Bulls), had large and loyal fan bases in the city. Charlotte was also one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, and was previously one of the three in-state regional homes to the American Basketball Association's Carolina Cougars, from 1969 to 1974.