The Charlotte Observer
HORNETS LEFT BEHIND
Head Coach Bob Gibson gathered the Charlotte Hornets players into a circle on the practice field and quietly gave them the bad news at 3:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The team had been practicing without letup for an hour and 15 minutes, working hard to prepare for Saturdays night's game here with Hawaii.
No one was expecting the word - that there was no game, no team, no league.
"We wouldn't have been practicing if we had know it was coming, " said big defensive tackle Greg Lens, the good-humor man of the team. "Nobody knew it was coming."
"When coach Gibson stopped us, someone said kiddingly the league had folded and someone asked if we where getting a break."
"It's the longest break in the world," said Gibson. "That's it."
Gibson had trotted off the field, at the Gus Purcell camp on Kuykendall Road off Providence Road, just minutes before with a worried look on his face. Upton Bell, Hornets president and general manager, was on the phone.
"I wouldn't have gone to the phone for anybody but Upton or my wife, and not necessarily in that order," said Gibson, keeping his sense of humor. "Whenever I get called off the field by Upton, I've expected the worst.
"I knew there was a conference call to talk about the financing of the league, and I thought there were two possibilities - one good, one bad. I'm an optimist and I thought he was calling to say everything was go.
"But a little man inside of me said, 'The Worst.'"
Jere Brown, a linebacker, saw Gibson leave the field.
"There was something funny because I saw Coach Gibson had walked in, and I thought it was a phone call or he was sick," Brown said. "We kept going through the same drills, and I thought we ought to go to the next session.
"Then Gibson came back and I looked in his face. He was almost crying and I knew what he would say."
Gibson said Bell had told him "the bare facts," that the Hornets were one of the WFL clubs that had voted to continue and that the Chamber of Commerce would help the players find new jobs.
Gibson relayed the information.
"I was a little emotional. I feel bad for them," Gibson said. "I told them we were finished."
"I was not speaking to well at the time, but I said I appreciated what they did as a group, that I didn't think they'd forget what happened here, that they were as close a knit organization as you can be as adults."
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