After the Charlotte Hornets left for New Orleans in 2002, the city was promised another team for the 2004-2005 season. In June 2003, the new team was name the Bobcats. The original owner of the team, Robert “Bob” Johnson named the team after himself even after the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission had a fan vote on the nickname, but Johnson chose the Bobcats over the Charlotte Flight, who won the vote.
The state of North Carolina and the city of Charlotte have never embraced the Bobcats’ nickname. That’s why it was a big deal when Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan announced on Tuesday that he’s changing his team’s name to the Charlotte Hornets for the 2014-2015 season.
The change must be approved by the NBA Board of Governors on July 18, but unless David Stern veto this much like the Chris Paul/Lakers trade, it will get approved.
Jordan and the franchise needed to change something after nine years of despondency and agony. He needed to do something that will ignite a dormant fan base. The nickname has always belonged to Charlotte. Even New Orleans Pelicans’ Owner Tom Benson said the name belonged to Charlotte.
“The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here. The Hornets don’t mean anything here,” Benson said.
Ever since entering the NBA in the 2004-2005 season, the Bobcats have been near the bottom of league in attendance. Their best season in attendance was during the 2010-2011 season where they finished 21st in the league. Even during the 2009-2010 season when the Bobcats finished 44-38, the team only finished 22nd in league attendance. The attendance numbers are a lot higher than actually people in the stands as Time Warner Cable Arena, which seats over 20,000 because most night it’s not full.
That’s a complete opposite of the Charlotte Hornets, who were for most their existence, were one of the more popular franchises in the league. The Hornets had a sellout streak of 364 games. If you are mathematically challenged, that’s a span of nearly nine NBA seasons. The only reason attendance began to decrease was because of the demands of a new arena from then Hornets owner George Shinn.
I’m not saying this will totally solve the attendance problem, but the name change will get former fans of the Hornets excited again. There are a lot of things Jordan can do to get fans excited about the Hornets nickname returning to Charlotte.
Jordan could incorporate former Hornet players like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice, Baron Davis and Muggsy Bogues, in to the franchise. Mourning is more identified as a Miami Heat, but you certainly could get help for Rice, Bogues, Davis and Johnson. These are the players that helped the organization make seven playoff runs in its 14 years of existence. This would also help increase fan attendance and merchandise sells.
The three things that are a must are to color Time Warner Cable Arena teal and purple, get professional wrestler Ric Flair involved with the team again and to have this sound during games: http://youtu.be/DsX538vx7eI
For the people who say, a name change isn’t going to change the team’s play on the court, they’re right. This current Charlotte franchise has an overall record of 250-472 during the regular season and 0-4 in the playoffs. To make matters worse, the Bobcats possibly had the worst campaign in NBA history when the 2011-12 squad went just 7-59, a .106 winning percentage.
The team has employed six head coaches and is actively searching for its seventh since they entered the league in 2004-2005. Michael Jordan has to hire a coach that will bring some stability to this franchise.
Hopefully for Charlotte basketball fans, this is a change in the right direction. I was personally crushed when the Hornets left Charlotte for New Orleans. My aunt and I use to attend games all the time and we would make a day out of it. The Charlotte Coliseum is where I saw my first professional sports game, first NBA game and first Laker game. It has been a brutal nine years, but it seems brighter days of coming for this franchise.
I just want to thank the three Charlotte area residents have been instrumental in bring the Hornets back to Charlotte.
John Morgan, an elementary art teacher in Monroe, N.C., who started a campaign on Facebook three years ago called “We Beelieve” after watching the Bobcats lose to the Orlando Magic in the 2010 NBA Playoffs.
Also want to thank Scotty and Evan Kent, who created the website and Twitter handle, “Bring Back the Buzz.” The Kent brothers have allowed myself to post articles and get the message out to you all about bring the Hornets back home.