Charlotte looking to reclaim Hornets and replace Bobcats

charlotte-hornetsAccording to a report, the Charlotte Bobcats are in the process of claiming the name that resided in the city with the Charlotte Hornets from 1988-2002.

The name traveled to New Orleans when the franchise relocated, but recently became available when the Crescent City’s NBA team ditched the “Hornets” for the “Pelicans”.

It’s a move that, if it comes to fruition, will be a hit in the Queen City. Between seeing a terrible on-court product, a bitter taste from the loss of the Hornets and a general malaise toward the Bobcats franchise named after founder Bob Johnson, Charlotteans have had a tepid-at-best relationship with their current NBA team.

Since arriving in Charlotte in 2004, the Bobcats can claim one playoff appearance and have a short yet profound record of making poor personnel decisions.

But the Hornets – that’s a different story. The basketball-crazed city fell in love with the franchise that arrived in 1988. Even when the team stunk, fans showed up and made noise. And after a few years, the Hornets actually got good.

Fans sold out the 24,000-plus seat Charlotte Coliseum for 364 consecutive games as the team with the iconic teal-and-purple color scheme won games with Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues.

But then it fell apart. Johnson hurt his back, Mourning took his talents to South Beach and the city grew frustrated with owner George Shinn, who became involved in a sexual assault trial involving a Hornets cheerleader and later made demands on the city to build a new arena.

The Hornets left town in 2002 and were replaced with the Bobcats two years later. The magic has not come back.

Basketball fans in Charlotte have clamored for the return of the Hornets since New Orleans started to discuss a name change. Majority owner Michael Jordan has been studying the business side of bringing the Hornets name back to the city.

But a color scheme and Hugo the Hornet won’t be enough to get Charlotte fully behind its NBA franchise. After a decade of miserable basketball, Michael Jordan’s top priority is finding the next Johnson-Mourning tandem.

If the Bobcats keep losing like they do, bringing back an old nickname won’t mean anything at all.

There is no timetable for the switch though NBA commissioner to be Adam Silver told Bobcats season ticket holders in April that such a change would take at least 18 months to implement.

Moreover, the change is not unexpected and would likely be popular with the North Carolina fan base.

Bobcats chairman and owner Michael Jordan confirmed in February that the team hired “a national polling group” (previously reported as Harris Interactive) to determine how fans felt about a change back to Hornets.

Jordan called the reaction to the poll “very mixed.” Numerous grassroots groups have pushed for a return to Hornets.


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