The Charlotte Bobcats officially joined the National Basketball Association on May 3 upon final payment of its franchise fee, it was announced by NBA Commissioner David Stern. The Bobcats become the league’s 30th team and will begin play next season.
"We are delighted to welcome the city of Charlotte back into the NBA," said Stern. "Bob Johnson’s proven track record of running successful businesses together with the first-rate organization he has assembled in Charlotte is sure to make the Bobcats a success, both on and off the court, in the years to come."
Robert L. Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of Black Entertainment Television (BET), was unanimously awarded the Charlotte expansion franchise by the NBA Board of Governors in January 2003. The Johnson group also owns and operates the WNBA’s Charlotte Sting.
Longtime NBA team front office executive Ed Tapscott is the organization’s Chief Operating Officer. NBA veteran coach and executive Bernie Bickerstaff is the Bobcats’ first-ever general manager and head coach.
Key upcoming milestones for the Charlotte Bobcats franchise include:
June 22, 2004 - The Bobcats will select at least 14 players from the other 29 NBA teams in the NBA Expansion Draft. The other teams will be allowed to "protect" eight players from being selected and no team may lose more than one player in the Expansion Draft.
June 24, 2004 - The Bobcats have the fourth overall pick, and also the fourth pick in the second round (33rd overall pick), in the 2004 NBA Draft which will be televised by ESPN beginning at 7 pm ET.
August 2004 – The Bobcats will unveil the team’s uniforms featuring orange as the primary color, making them the first team in the NBA to wear orange for their primary road uniforms.
October 2004 - C-SET (Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television) -- a new regional sports and entertainment network serving the Carolinas that is owned and operated by the Bobcats – will launch round-the-clock sports and entertainment programming, including up to 60 Bobcats games per season. C-SET recently entered into an affiliation agreement with Time Warner Cable, the region's largest cable operator. In addition, each season 15 Bobcats games will be broadcast in Charlotte by WJZY-TV, a UPN affiliate.
November 2004 -- The Bobcats will tip off its inaugural season at the Charlotte Coliseum, playing in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference, under the NBA's new divisional alignment, which goes into effect next season. In addition to the Bobcats, the division includes the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.
November 2005 - The Bobcats will begin play in a new, state-of-the-art arena currently under construction in the center of Charlotte’s business district. The arena will seat 18,500 for basketball games.