So I made mention that I may be a “We Beeliever” in my last game recap. Rest easy, friends, because I’m still a neutral party. I made a promise in my last article about explaining my stance as to why I could see a name change being needed. Well, here it is…the article to explain myself. Pull up a chair because this one is a slightly different approach. It is one that has been discussed by Bruce Barker and myself over the course of some back and forth emails. You want the BUZZ? Read on!
As you look at NBA teams, typically they all have that one thing that the fans can latch on to. The Bulls had Jordan and Pippen back in the day. The Magic had Shaq and Penny. The Sonics had Kemp and Payton. Am I going back too far? How about Westbrook and Durant? Shaq and Kobe? Did you know that Kobe was a Charlotte Hornet on draft night? Yeah, that rapidly turned into Vlade Divac, a pack of smokes, and possibly some cash in George Shinn’s pocket, but I digress. My point is that most teams have faces of the franchise that folks fall in love with. Here in Charlotte, we had some favorites. We had Okafor…we had Crash (Gerald Wallace)…we tried AmMo (Adam Morrison)…RayRay (Raymond Felton). I mean, we really did try, but in every instance, Bob Johnson ran the team like a Wal-Mart. Keep the cost low and own an NBA basketball team. Johnson even pulled what money he was putting into the community and put it back in his pocket. The day Jordan became majority owner is the day that Charlotte TRULY got its NBA team back. The road hasn’t been a smooth one, and the life of an NBA contract is often one that is hard to get rid of. Take Diop’s contract, for instance. It has been a long road, but this summer is the last year that $7.3 million is tied up in him. Other big contracts have faded away as well. The problem that remains is that when you’re rebuilding from the ground up, you lose a lot of identity. If I say Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem the dream, or even Reggie Miller, you know what team I’m talking about. The Bobcats came close with Crash. We moved him away though. So all that remains is to rebuild through the draft or free agency.
Well, a team with no face has a hard time having fans. So, in this one statement, we have reached the need for a name change. As we creep closer and closer to the team being a decade old, we have no face. We have no LJ or Zo to embrace. No Dell or Muggsy to caudle. We have Kemba and MKG. A sophomore and a rookie in the NBA is what we’re looking at. Both are improving with every game that they play, but even Bobcats fans are leery of buying a player jersey, in fear that the player may be here today and gone tomorrow. So, what is my point? Why do we need to change the name? Well my friends, with no current superstar on the court that could be that long-term guy that retires with us and leads us to the Promised Land. We have Kemba and MKG on the roster that COULD become those guys. They could become what LJ and Zo were for the Hornets. It isn’t a guarantee though. Every player we have drafted has been traded away. Some were good picks but most were bad. We have Henderson who has not got a qualifying offer yet. If he doesn’t get one, we’re still batting 1.000 for not ever keeping our picks. Only one thing would remain for the avid NBA basketball fans in Charlotte to embrace if they can’t embrace a player. A name. Something familiar. You need something that brings back the good memories of NBA Basketball in Charlotte from the past. You want something to tide the fans over for just a little bit longer, so Kemba can become the best PG in the East, or we land the superstar that completes our puzzle. No…I see you guys looking…and it isn’t the Carolina Cougars. We become the Charlotte Hornets. The fans can’t embrace a player, but they can embrace Hugo. They can embrace Super Hugo with his insane dunks off of the trampoline. I’ve long said that the name change will not bring wins. Everyone knows that it won’t. It will, however, bring nostalgia. Nostalgia doesn’t win games, but the Hornets weren’t a great team when they started out. They did, however sell out the arena for a decade, and led the NBA in attendance. Can lightning strike twice? Well, I don’t think we’ll ever see another Larry Johnson, Dell Curry, Muggsy Bogues, or Alonzo Mourning grace the floor of Time Warner Cable Arena, but if it takes a name change to bring NBA fans in the Queen City buzzing back to their NBA home team in a big way, then change the name. If we aren't packing the Cable Box, let's fill up the Hive and get Center City Buzzing!
The bottom line is that as the 2013-2014 season begins, the NBA team in New Orleans will not be called the Hornets anymore. They’ll be the Pelicans…or Brass (thanks for the idea Bruce)…or Sinners (get it…Saints and Sinners…see what I did there?)…maybe they’ll be the Levees…Whatever they call themselves, they won’t be the Hornets. That name will be one that is owned by the NBA, and would be available if Michael Jordan wants it back in the Queen City. We would actually have an opportunity to take the name that started here…that grew from here. If we’re looking for a culture change, perhaps we’ll need to embrace the past to ignite the future.
I’m glad to have an NBA team in Charlotte and whatever happens can happen. I do know that winning sustains fans. We will have but one chance if the name is brought back. We will have 1 chance to make the team on the floor compete with the glory days of old. If we change the name and the wins don’t come, then it was a moot point to change. If we change the name and Kemba becomes the best PG in the East, MKG flourishes and begins to show he’s an all-star, and we would land a free agent like Dwight Howard (he was born in Atlanta, GA, so maybe he’d want to represent the East Coast…and win his championship here), we will be well on our way to becoming something special. We won’t be the Hornets of old…but the Hornets of the future. IF we miss our chance to be great, nostalgia will only carry us so far. I guess, for now, we will just have to hurry up and wait.
Do I sound like I may be sliding back to the Hornets side of the fence? If I do…don’t make too big of a buzz about it. I can be purrr-fectly fine staying a Bobcat.
I’m a Cats Crazy, and I can become a Beeliever…just so long as there’s some NBA in North Carolina.
A well written article that does a good job exploring the pros of a name change, but what about the cons? What about the expense to a team who is already in the red financially? What about the possibility of the nostalgic (and obviously finicky) Hornets fans digging their old jerseys out of the closet and showing up for one game and one game only? What about all the kids you see at TWC arena who are having the times of their lives, win or lose, who have no idea who and what a "hornet" is when it comes to the NBA? There is an entire generation of Bobcats fans who have only ever known the Bobcats! I know you've explored both sides of this debate, as we've discussed it before, but I couldn't resist listing at least *some* of the cons involoved with a name change on an article that makes quite a persuasive case in favor of it.
@raverain I know exactly what you mean, and rest assured...another article is in the works to cover the other side of the coin. My sons no nothing of the Charlotte Hornets, so that side needs to be covered too. For now, however, I'm giving this day to the folks swarming TWC Arena. After today, the rebuttal will come. Bruce Barker already has something put together for everyone. This will be similar to our Claw2Claw section, but instead of a point/counterpoint, it will be like 2 editorials.
Glad to hear it! For the record, I am not completely opposed to the idea of a name change. I am, however, against it happening NOW. The direction the team has taken since MJ replaced BJ and especially since Cho took control of the reigns has me cautiously optimistic that we are building something. With the 2 first round picks we'll have next year and all the extra cap space (don't let the door hit you Mr. Diop!) I truly believe this team will soon have the ability to attract more fans without a name change. Besides, I'm still opposed to the idea of spending millions on a name change at a time when the team is not turning a profit all in the HOPES that some of the old Hive fans will come back for one or more games. That's just fiscally irresponsible to say the least.I'm a lifelong Charlotte basketball fan. I puleld for the Hornets and was very disappointed to see them leave town. I have pulled for the Bobcats since day one, attend tons of games and still even have my Okafor jersey hanging in the closet. I'm a fan of NBA BASKETBALL IN CHARLOTTE. I couldn't care less what the team is named! However, if a name change is truly in order I'd prefer it be done when the time is right and for the right reasons and I don't personally feel like we've met either of those criteria.