The news broke last night that the wheels are in motion for the Bobcats to change their name to the Hornets. This comes as no surprise to anybody. Once New Orleans changed its name to the Pelicans, it just made too much sense.
For just $3 million, Michael Jordan could get a fresh start. He could bury the stigma that comes with the Bobcats name and the jokes that come with it. Gone are the legacies of Bob Johnson, Sam Vincent and Adam Morrison.
The memories of Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogues, Alonzo Mourning, Dell Curry, Glen Rice, Eddie Jones, Jamal Mashburn and Baron Davis never faded in Charlotte, but now they will be tangibly represented on the court at Time Warner Cable Arena. It might not be the same franchise, but the connection will be there.
On a personal note, my childhood in many ways was defined by the Hornets. Going to games early with my buddy Townes to get autographs (I probably have 50-plus PJ Brown and Baron Davis signatures), sitting with my dad and friends in section 130, row N, seats 1-4 for seemingly every weekend game and listening to Bob Licht on WBT 1110 AM as I fell asleep are cherished memories.
The new Hornets are unlikely to create the same bond as the original version, but when Hugo leads the team out of the tunnel in the fall of 2014 or 2015, I will be there, welcoming a long lost friend home.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the Bobcats. I will support the new Hornets as much as did the Bobcats. The “Charlotte” portion of the name is what matters most to me.
Also, the team is still the same. Just because the players on the court will don “Hornets” on their chest instead of “Bobcats” does not change the fact that the team won just 28 games over the past two seasons. However, what the name change does is hopefully usher in a new era.
With a boatload of cap space and potentially four first round draft picks over the next two drafts, the Horncats are in position to add to the nucleus of Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo and Gerald Henderson should Charlotte choose to resign him this offseason.
The rebuilding process began over two years ago. The Bobnets slowly acquired assets and the time to turn the corner is almost here. No better time to rebrand than now. It’s a fresh start in the middle of a difficult process that will hopefully bridge the gap between the start of rebuilding to the results of rebuilding.
In the end, a name is just a name. It doesn’t guarantee wins, it doesn’t guarantee better players and it doesn’t guarantee folks will buy tickets. I hope and trust that those who vehemently called for the name change will back it up with support, win or lose, because there will be a couple more seasons of losing before things get better.
For now, this generates excitement about the NBA in Charlotte for the first the Bobcats made the playoffs in 2010. The city that once sold out every game for nearly a decade once again has its team back. The agonizing over draft picks, free agents, wins and losses will come. For now, enjoy the moment and embrace the nostalgia. Welcome back Hornets!
Go Heels Go America!