Rick Bonnell, who covered the Hornets for the Charlotte Observer from the team's inaugural season in 1988, has died at 63, the paper reported Wednesday.
His son, Jack, confirmed his death on Tuesday night and told the Observer that police told him that there was no reason to suspect foul play.
The cause of Bonnell's death has not been determined, his son told the Observer. However, it is reportedly believed to be of natural causes.
Bonnell had more than 11,000 bylines in the paper, and as Scott Fowler of the Observer writes, "Bonnell didn’t just have institutional knowledge. He was an institution."
The Hornets released multiple statements regarding Bonnell's death, including from center Cody Zeller, guard Terry Rozier and former Charlotte forward Marvin Williams.
“I’m very sad to learn about Rick’s passing. Rick was a staple at Hornets games, dating back to my playing days at the old Charlotte Coliseum," Hornets chairman Michael Jordan said. "He prided himself on being fair and honest in his reporting, and I truly respected that about him. Rick became the source for Hornets news in Charlotte, which speaks to his talent and professionalism. The Hornets’ family will miss Rick’s friendly face at our games. I send my condolences to his family and friends.”
News of his death sparked a wave of tributes from around the sports world:
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