DALLAS – Mention the Carolinas, and Raymond Felton always gets good vibes.
The Dallas Mavericks point guard’s roots are deeply planted in that part of the country.
Felton was born in Marion, South Carolina, graduated from high school in Latta, South Carolina, and won an NCAA title at the University of North Carolina in 2005. He also was a first-round draft pick – the fifth overall selection -- of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2005.
Therefore, when Felton played for the Bobcats it always afforded him several comforts the average NBA player doesn’t have. It was his security blanket of sorts.
"It was like being at home,’’ Felton said after Thursday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "Coming off a national title at North Carolina and then moving on to Charlotte two hours up the road, it was just basically like being at home and having my family there and having that good fan base there.
"It was good. I enjoyed Charlotte.’’
Felton will see a lot of Charlotte – the basketball team that is now named the Hornets – Thursday night at 7:30 when the Mavs (2-2) entertain the Hornets (1-3) at AAC.
As Felton steps back in time, he remembers when Charlotte was awarded an expansion team in 2004 and made Emeka Okafor the franchise’s first-ever draft pick.
Felton also knows the following year the Hornets made him their second-ever first-round draft pick.
Actually, the Hornets are in their second tour of duty in Charlotte.
Originally awarded an expansion franchise in 1988, the Hornets gained a lot of traction behind the superb play of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. But owner George Shinn pulled up stakes and moved the Hornets to New Orleans following the 2001-’02 season and they became the New Orleans Hornets.
Essentially, Charlotte was without an NBA team for two seasons until 2004 when they were awarded another expansion franchise named the Charlotte Bobcats. And then in 2013, New Orleans decided to rename itself the Pelicans.
The following year, the Bobcats renamed themselves the Hornets.
"I remember those days as a kid going to see the Charlotte Hornets play,’’ Felton said. "I got a chance to meet (Charlotte guard) Baron Davis for the first time when I was in high school.
"(Guard) Ray Allen, he’s married to a friend of the family. So I got a chance to meet him and go out to dinner after their game, because he was playing with Milwaukee at the time during a game in Charlotte.’’
In his fifth season with Charlotte, Felton helped the Bobcats advance to the playoffs in 2010 before he moved on to play for Denver, New York and now the Mavs.
"It grew before I left out of there,’’ Felton said of Charlotte. "We made the playoffs my fifth year there, and it was amazing.
"And at the point we made the playoffs with the Bobcats, it was rocking again in Charlotte.’’
While Charlotte remains home for Felton, he doesn’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling any more when he plays the Hornets. But the matchup does get his undivided attention.
"This is my 11th year now,’’ Felton said. "So it’s just one of those things where when you play against one of your old teams you always get hyped up for it.’’
Thus, when the Mavs host the Hornets on Thursday night, Felton will be hyped up for that game. He knows family and friends back home will be watching closely.
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com.