8 ways Charlotte changed since the last time Steve Clifford was Hornets head coach

8 ways Charlotte changed since the last time Steve Clifford was Hornets head coach

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford. Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share by Email

Much has changed since Steve Clifford was fired from his role as Charlotte Hornets head coach in the spring of 2018.

What’s happening: The Hornets announced they’re bringing him back as head coach after firing James Borrego in April.

Why it matters: Clifford was the last coach to take them to the playoffs in 2015-16.

  • Charlotte loves a winner, and while the Hornets did have their first winning season since 2015-16 last season, they’re in a playoff drought.

Context: Clifford coached the Hornets from 2013-2018. He’s 12 wins away from becoming their winningest coach in franchise history.

What he’s saying: “I’ve only been here about 24 hours,” Clifford told me during his introductory press conference when I asked what he’d noticed about changes in Charlotte since he last lived here.

  • “The Dunkin’ Donuts still opens at 5:30am down by the Vue [in Uptown],” Clifford said with a smile.

Here are 8 things that changed during Clifford’s time away:

1. Charlotte was smaller

The population grew from 841,611 in 2018 to around 879,709, per the United States Census Bureau.

Axios archives

2. The Hornets will play at Spectrum Center through 2045

Charlotte City Council voted 9-1 to approve $215 million in renovations for Spectrum Center on June 13. The proposal included a lease extension for the Hornets.

Spectrum Center. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

3. The Hornets have LaMelo Ball

We’ve told you a few times Charlotte’s All-Star turns heads on and off the court, plus he has pretty good taste in milkshakes.

  • “He’s a great talent with a passion for the game,” Clifford said of Ball.

Photo: David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

4. Several beloved Charlotte restaurants were still open

Charlotte lost several iconic restaurants, including Price’s Chicken Coop, Mr. K’s and the Stanley.

Price's Chicken Coop closing

Axios archives

5. The Grand Bohemian Hotel wasn’t open

“The Grand Bohemian is new,” Clifford said which elicited a laugh from the crowd during his press conference.

Axios archives

6. Charlotte FC didn’t exist

Charlotte was about a year and a half away from getting a Major League Soccer franchise.

Charlotte fc

Hector Cortes organizes supporters at Charlotte FC’s inaugural home match at Bank of America Stadium on March 5, 2022. Photo: Travis Dove/Axios

7. David Tepper didn’t own the Carolina Panthers

Tepper bought the Panthers a few months after Clifford and the Hornets parted ways.

  • Plus Cam Newton was still the quarterback and Ron Rivera was still the head coach.
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper

Axios archives

8. American Legion Memorial Stadium was still in disrepair

Mecklenburg County wouldn’t begin a $40.5 million renovation project on the historic stadium in Elizabeth, which was originally dedicated by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, until 2019.

Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Between the lines: Some things have stayed the same, like his friendship with Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak.

  • Kupchak and Clifford went out to dinner a few nights after the Hornets let Clifford go in 2018, and Clifford offered Kupchak his home in Uptown since Kupchak didn’t have a permanent place to stay.
  • “I was afraid that he might ask for his apartment back,” Kupchak said with a laugh about bringing Clifford back.

The bottom line: We live in a world where both Clifford and Newton can return to their respective teams in Charlotte. Perhaps Clifford will have more success his second time around.

113 Total Views 2 Views Today
Story Views:
Join the 118,691 smart Charlotteans that receive our daily newsletter.
"It's good. I promise." - Emma   Emma Way