Dwayne Wade.

On this day: 29 years ago, four important franchises began life in the NBA

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Much like America - which comprises 29 of it's 30 franchises - the NBA is the land of opportunity.

There are approximately 323.6 million people in the U.S today, and with every burgeoning metropolis there is almost bound to be some hungry sports fans looking to pledge their allegiance to something.

Looking at the NBA today, you might be forgiven for thinking the powerhouses that stand before us have always been there. Just like the New York Yankees were established in 1901, Manchester United were renamed in 1902 and the Pittsburgh Steelers were born in 1933.

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But, basketball is a sport that's evolution has particularly accelerated in the past 30 years. Today's familiar NBA landscape is partly the result of a merger with the ABA back in 1976, but on this day 29 years ago, four more teams were granted expansion franchises that have had a profound effect on the league.

On April 22 1987, Charlotte, Miami, Minneapolis and Orlando all made their way to the NBA, with the Hornets and the Heat joining the league in 1988-89, and the Timberwolves and Magic waiting until 1989-90.

Interestingly, no new franchise has had a positive winning percentage in their inaugural season.

Saying that; franchises might come and go, but the cities still retain their love for the game. Here's a brief look at those organisations lasting impacts on today's game and what a difference the NBA's decision that day has had on the sport.

Charlotte Hornets

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets

Now owned by the legendary Michael Jordan, Charlotte are still in the infancy of their growth. Under one million people live in Charlotte, North Carolina, with only 10 million people residing in the state.

That's tiny compared to near 40 million that live in California, but there is still a passionate market on the south-east coast.

They've only made the playoffs 10 times in their 26 seasons, but their latest batch of talent including Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Nicolas Batum is giving hope to a brighter future for the Hornets.

They had a 10-year sabbatical as the Bobcats, but they have been known in the hearts of many as the Hornets all along. Great players like Alonzo Mourning and Glen Rice have suited up for the Hornets, and even Kobe Bryant was drafted by them back in 1996.

It looks like Jordan's long-term approach is beginning to yield some fruit with their playoff appearance this season and Charlotte are certainly a team on the rise.

Miami Heat

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics

The Heat are naturally the most successful organisation out of the four newcomers on this day because of one fact: they've won a championship.

In fact, they've won three. Miami have no doubt been helped, in part, because of it's location. Lots of players are attracted to living in South Beach and plying their trade in such a beautiful and warm city.

Dwyane Wade, though, embodies everything that is special about the organisation. As a career-long Heat man after being selected fifth in the 2003 draft, Wade has been an essential part of the success that the franchise has been able to attain.

Whether it was alongside Shaquille O'Neal in 2006, or Lebron James in 2012 and 2013, Wade has thrived as a key player in the Miami set-up. Players like Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway and Mourning all had fleeting romances with Miami, but Wade will undoubtedly go down as the greatest player in the franchise's history.

The fact that he is still playing today and leading an impressive young unit to a chance at the NBA Finals is a testament to his impact in Florida and the vision of those that believed in him. Long may it continue.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Garnett begins to ce

Interestingly this week, the Timberwolves appointed Tom Thibodeau as their new head coach and president of basketball operations.

After doing stellar work in Chicago, the Timberwolves have acquired a man who knows how to nurture young talent and develop a winning side. In Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, Thibodeau has, arguably, the best young core in the NBA.

Those draft picks could prove to be the turning point for this franchise in the same way Kevin Garnett was in 1995. The legendary power forward would go on to find his NBA ring in Boston, but he did guide the Timberwolves to their one and only Western Conference title in 2004.

Garnett is synonymous with the Timberwolves, and approaching his 40th birthday next month, he's found himself under contract in Minneapolis again.

He can truly be regarded as their greatest ever player, but the NBA draft might be what defines the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic center Shaquille O'Neal (L) drives i

Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, Patrick Ewing, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, and Rashard Lewis have all suited up for the Magic during the course of its young history.

That's an incredible bounty of talent, and yet, they've failed to capture a championship during their illustrious run.

Much like the Heat, Orlando has plenty of attractive surroundings to lure players to the Amway Center. However, when people think about the Magic, they almost certainly think about two dominant centers.

Shaq is probably the definition of a dominant center. The four-time NBA champions started his career in Florida and led the franchise to it's first ever conference title in 1995.

Orlando Magic v Golden State Warriors

It wasn't until 2009, when Howard arrived on the scene and stole Shaq's 'Superman' nickname, that Orlando would taste that success again.

Currently, the organisation finds itself in a rebuilding process much like it did upon McGrady's exit in 2004. With Victor Oladipo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, like the Timberwolves, they also have an exciting young core to build around. If they play free agency correctly this summer and perhaps even unearth the next Superman, they are a playoff contender waiting to happen.


It would be fair to say the Heat are the most successful franchise to date out of the four, not only because of their honours, but the prestige players like Wade have brought to their name. In many ways, the Timberwolves, the Hornets and the Magic are still growing their stock some 29 years on from their inception, but one thing is for sure, they've all made their own indelible marks on the game.

Charlotte Hornets
Southeast Division
Eastern Conference
Western Conference
Orlando Magic
Minnesota Timberwolves
Northwest Division
Miami Heat
Dwyane Wade
Michael Jordan
Kevin Garnett

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