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Carl Scheer, first GM of Charlotte Hornets, dies at 82

Carl Scheer, the first general manager of the Charlotte Hornets and an innovator who originated the idea of the slam dunk contest, died Friday in Charlotte. He was 82.

The Hornets released the following statement:

“The Hornets organization mourns the loss of Carl Scheer. As our first president and general manager, he built the franchise from the ground up and laid the foundation for our city’s love affair with the Hornets. Carl was a true pioneer whose innovative ideas such as the slam dunk contest changed the NBA. His contributions to professional basketball in the state of North Carolina are unmatched, having led not only the Hornets but also the ABA’s Carolina Cougars, and his knowledge and love of the game will be missed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Marsha, son Bob, daughter Lauren, and his entire family.”

An obituary in the Charlotte Observer credits Scheer with being one of the main authors of the Hornets’ inaugural season in 1988-89, which longtime fans remember nostalgically.

During a sports-centric career that spanned 50 years, Scheer also served as director of two minor-league hockey teams in the Carolinas — the Charlotte Checkers and the Greenville (S.C.) Growl. He also worked as GM of the ABA’s Carolina Cougars and shepherded the construction of a 14,000-seat multi-purpose arena in downtown Greenville, S.C.

Scheer chose Dell Curry — who would eventually set the Hornets’ all-time scoring record — in the expansion draft for Charlotte in 1988. That decision, in turn, meant that future two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steph Curry would be raised in Charlotte.

“I will forever be indebted to Carl for bringing me here,” Dell Curry said recently. “Obviously, it changed my life.”

Bob Scheer said his father passed away just one day short of his 83rd birthday. He had been battling dementia.

Harold Kaufman, the Hornets’ public relations director in the franchise’s early years, remembers Scheer fondly.

“Anyone talking to Carl thought they were the most important person in the world. He made you feel good about yourself. He motivated through positive reinforcement. You just didn’t want to let him down.”