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James Borrego spent the last four seasons as the Charlotte Hornets head coach. Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
James Borrego spent the last four seasons as the Charlotte Hornets head coach. Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

James Borrego out as Charlotte Hornets coach

Borrego, who had spent four seasons with the team, was the only Hispanic head coach in the National Basketball Association.

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The Charlotte Hornets announced today the dismissal of head coach James Borrego, earlier today.

Borrego was the only active Hispanic head coach in the National Basketball Association prior to his dismissal.

While seeing improvement each year, for the second straight season the Hornets finished the year as the 10th seed in the Eastern Conference, failing to win a play-in game to advance to the playoffs. 

Over his four seasons leading the Hornets, Borrego amassed an overall record of 138-163. Over the final three seasons, the Hornets saw a 10-win increase each year — from a 23-42 record during the 2019-20 season, improving to 33-39 during the 2020-21 season, and 43-39 this season. 

Borrego was hired as the Hornets head coach prior to the 2018 season. In the process, he made history as the first Latino to be hired as a full-time head coach in NBA history — 72 years since the NBA was established.

“I'm thankful to be the league's first Hispanic coach, and I want to be an inspiration for young men and women, to show you can be anything you want to be,” Borrego wrote in an Sports Illustrated essay shortly after accepting the job. 

Borrego's first NBA head coaching gig came on an interim basis, as he took over as head coach of the Orlando Magic for the final 30 games of the 2014-15 season after Jacque Vaughn was fired mid-season. Borrego’s team went 10-20 in those 30 games. 

A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico and in a predominantly Hispanic culture, Borrego is of Mexican-American descent, three generations removed from arriving in the United States. 

For Borrego, basketball helped him build a community and family — two values he credited his Hispanic heritage to being built around. 

As a walk-on at the University of San Diego, he played three seasons with the basketball team before becoming a graduate assistant coach. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in leadership studies at the university. 

After two years as an assistant coach with his alma mater, Borrego moved to the NBA, starting out as an assistant video coordinator with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003  before being promoted to assistant coach. He was a part of two championship teams with the Spurs during his first tenure with the team prior to leaving in 2010. 

Borrego then went on to become an assistant coach with the New Orleans Hornets for two years, before joining the Orlando Magic as an assistant coach. After his interim role with the Magic ended, he rejoined the Spurs coaching staff for three seasons prior to his recent head coaching job with Charlotte. 

At 44, Borrego was one of the league’s youngest coaches and will likely receive another head coaching job in the future. 

The Hornets will now be looking for its 12th head coach in franchise history. 

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