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Longtime Hornets beat writer Rick Bonnell dies

Bonnell was found unresponsive in his home by a friend Tuesday, the Observer reported.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rick Bonnell, the Charlotte Observer's longtime Hornets beat writer, who covered the team since its inaugural season in 1988, died Tuesday, the paper reported. 

According to a report from Scott Fowler, Bonnell was found unresponsive in his home by a friend Tuesday evening. He was 63. Bonnell covered professional basketball in Charlotte for more than 33 years, including when the team returned as the Bobcats in the early 2000s. 

The Charlotte Hornets Organization issued a statement about Bonnell's death, highlighting his career and life.

“The Charlotte Hornets organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Rick Bonnell. The Hornets long-time beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, dating back to the team’s inaugural 1988-89 season, Rick covered the team with fairness, professionalism and unmatched insight for the last 30+ years. Generations of Hornets fans throughout the Carolinas gained valuable knowledge and information about not only the Hornets, but also the NBA, through his consistent daily coverage. Rick was respected throughout the NBA by players, coaches and front office staff, as well as his peers within the media who elected him to serve as the president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. In addition to breaking the latest Hornets news, Rick always took pride in sharing the latest happenings of his children, Jack and Claire. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family, friends and Charlotte Observer colleagues. Rick will be sorely missed at Spectrum Center." 

Charlotte Hornets Chairman Michael Jordan also issued a statement Wednesday afternoon about Bonnell. 

Media members who have worked with Bonnell or covered the Hornets alongside him shared their condolences on social media. He was beloved and considered a friend by many. 

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Bonnell was a walking encyclopedia of Charlotte basketball. He almost always knew the story behind the story, and shared his insights with colleagues, as well as fans during regular appearances on WFNZ and social media Q&A sessions. 

A cause of death hasn't been determined at this time. 

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