#12 Charlotte Hornets Who best to add to a combustible mix of disgruntled stars and a combative coach? Try Derrick Coleman

February 08, 1999

In the mornings and late in the afternoons during the lockout,
backup forward Travis Williams worked out at his gym in
Columbia, S.C. In between he was on his couch, glued to the
soaps. "Young and the Restless, Guiding Light, As the World
Turns, I watched them all," says Williams. As a fan of plot
twists, family feuds and temperamental stars, Williams may well
find that his team is more compelling to watch this season than
his television.

Last year the Hornets bowed to the Bulls in five games in the
second round of the playoffs. During the series, forward Anthony
Mason openly complained about the strategies of coach Dave
Cowens. During a 103-89 loss in Game 3, Cowens yelled, "Kiss my
ass," at Mason. In the visitors' locker room afterward, he
confronted Mase again, saying, "You want some of me?" Both
characters say that their bad blood has been written out of the
'99 script, but Charlotte's decision to sign forward Derrick
Coleman to play center--and thereby bid farewell to Vlade Divac
and Matt Geiger--is likely to generate new plot lines. Though
he's a potent scorer and rebounder, Coleman's defensive lethargy
may be just enough to drive Cowens over the edge. "I don't know
how it's going to work out," says Cowens, who has 105 wins in
two seasons with Charlotte. "Not until we get out there and see
how this team mixes and mingles."

Sharpshooter Glen Rice helped persuade Coleman, whom he's known
since their high school days in Michigan, to sign with the
Hornets for $40 million over five years. Then shortly after the
lockout ended, Rice announced he was having surgery to remove
bone chips from his right (shooting) elbow and would miss six to
eight weeks, possibly as much as 40% of the shortened season.
Until Rice's return, point guard David Wesley will have to be
the team's, um, guiding light, even though he has yet to prove
that he can consistently run the offense. Wesley and
backcourtmate Bobby Phills should at least have plenty of open
looks at the basket, with lefthanded low-post specialists Mason
and Coleman drawing double teams.

Cowens will turn for scoring help to 34-year-old forward Chuck
Person, a free-agent signee, and rookie Ricky Davis, who has
grown two inches to 6'7" since leaving Iowa. "We are going to be
the type of team you don't pay any attention to until you play
us," says Mason. "Then you're stuck trying to stop us. Up front
we're tough and we're versatile. And there's no answer for that."

The Hornets chose not to re-sign guard Dell Curry, a brilliant
shooter, a steadying influence and the last original player for
this 10-year-old franchise. Charlotte did give a tryout to rap
star and recording mogul Master P, a.k.a. guard Percy Miller of
the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury, whose ditties include Time to Check
My Crackhouse. Consider it just another twist in the sputtering
saga As the Hornets Turn.


COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY BOB DONNAN Identity crisis The blase Coleman (or is that George Foreman?) has a new role at center.


Starters PVR* 1997-98 Key Stats

SF Glen Rice** 78 22.3 ppg 4.3 rpg 45.7 FG% 43.3 3FG%
PF Anthony Mason 38 12.8 ppg 10.2 rpg 4.2 apg 50.9 FG%
C Derrick Coleman[+] 70 17.6 ppg 9.9 rpg 2.5 apg 1.15 bpg
SG Bobby Phills 114 10.4 ppg 3.5 rpg 3.0 apg 1.31 spg
PG David Wesley 64 13.0 ppg 6.5 apg 1.73 spg 44.3 FG%

Top Reserves Bench Ranking (out of 29 teams): 28

F Chuck Person 179 6.7 ppg 3.3 rpg 35.9 FG% 34.4 3FG%
G Eldridge Recasner 217 9.3 ppg 2.0 apg 41.9 3FG% 93.7 FT%
F Chucky Brown 236 5.0 ppg 2.4 rpg 0.7 apg 43.3 FG%

1997-98 Record: 51-31 (third in Central)
Coach: Dave Cowens (third season with Hornets)

[+]New acquisition
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 68)
**Will begin season on injured list

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)