Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the August issue of Charlotte magazine, arriving on newsstands now, the cover story is titled "Where Are They Now?" The feature, which is a whopping 24 pages, takes you on a journey as you read about some of Charlotte's most-prominent or once-prominent figures and what they've been up to since you last saw, heard, or read about them. "Rasslers, rogues, and rapscallions. The original Hornets and Panthers. A guy in a Speedo, a serial killer, and The Group who built modern-day Charlotte. We tracked down 70 newsmakers from the past few decades...," the intro teases.

I contributed to the feature by tracking down and writing mini-profiles on the entire 1988-89 Charlotte Hornets team and the starters from the 1995 Carolina Panthers. Those two teams, of course, are the first-year teams of the franchises. In tracking down the 15 Hornets players and their head coach, and the 25 Panthers players (starters on offense, defense, and special teams) and their head coach, I did a lot of Googling, emailing, and calling, oftentimes starting with the smallest lead and ending at my destination. Such was the case when my research and numerous tries led me to a number for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois, in the recreation department, and when the person I asked for answered the phone, I said: "Are you the Rickey Green who used to play for the Hornets?" Yes, he said. Whew, another one checked off the list.

What surprised me most during my research and writing? The fact that all but two of the former Hornets are currently working or have worked as either coaches or broadcasters for college or professional basketball teams. And secondly, the tragedies that have struck a few of the starters from the first-year Panthers: two died at relatively young ages (one from a drug overdose and one from cancer) and one is currently serving a fifteen-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide.


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