On Tuesday, weeks of speculation regarding the potential name change of the Charlotte Bobcats came to an end when Michael Jordan announced that the Charlotte Bobcats would begin the process of renaming the franchise to the old name of the Charlotte Hornets. The Bobcats believe in this decision so strongly that it will cost them nearly $4 million to complete this task. The basketball team in Charlotte played under the nickname of the Hornets from the franchise’s creation in 1988 until its departure for New Orleans in 2002. In 1988, both the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets entered the NBA as expansion teams. The Charlotte Hornets have had some brilliant moments culminating in Alonzo Mourning’s 1993 NBA Playoffs Game 4 jump shot that ended Hall of Famer Kevin McHale’s career. The Charlotte community loved those Hornets. In fact, those Hornets had over 8 years’ worth of consecutively sold-out games, which is an unbelievable record considering that their best players were Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson (the NBA’s first cross-dressing power forward as Converse’s Grandmama), Kendall Gill, and Glen Rice. All of them were elite NBA players at various points in their careers, but none of them are first-ballot Hall of Famers. To be truthful, Mourning is not eligible for induction in the Hall of Fame until next year, but I would not expect him to make it the first year that he is eligible. Charlotte was clearly a loyal fan base. Somehow, the owners of the team managed to turn this mountain of gold into a pile of sand. Attendance began declining as the fan base began to fall out of love with the ownership. The then-current owners of the team, Ray Woolridge and George Shinn, claimed to be losing money to the tune of $15-$20 Million per year as attendance declined. Things hit rock bottom when the voter referendum for finance for a new arena was rejected by the citizens of the Great State of North Carolina. Despite the team’s departure from Charlotte, the name “Hornets” still has a lot of goodwill in Charlotte.
However, you can tell that this is clearly a “Hail Mary” strategy from Michael Jordan and the leadership of the Charlotte franchise. It is all about the quality of the product and not what you call it. Or is it? For those of you who are fans of the Wire, Stringer Bell of the Barksdale Crew found himself in precisely the same position in Season 3. Family capo Avon Barksdale was locked up and the Crew’s dope and coke connect started serving them a weak supply. Dope fiends in The Wire’s Baltimore west side started wandering across town for that fire from Eastside dealer Prop Joe. Bell, realizing that he was unable to do anything to improve the quality of his product, decides to change the street name from “WMD” to “Pandemic.” It was a short-term fix, but certainly caused a few fiends to invest their daily blast money into more poor quality product from the Barksdale Crew.
With the #4 spot in this year’s draft and no elite players on the roster for next year, the Bobcats certainly need something to distract the fan base from the current state of affairs. To be fair, there is certainly some young talent with Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker, yet this team is still years away from relevance. Jordan could be trying this renaming strategy to buy some time until he is able to get a parting gift from Commissioner David Stern and the NBA owners that Jordan made rich over the course of his career. What gift do you give a man that already has everything? The #1 draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Andrew Wiggins. Sound crazy? I don’t know. N.D. Face thinks that it is a distinct possibility and I agree with him.