Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Charlotte Bobcats Could Reclaim "Hornets" Nickname

Cam Newton totally likes the name "Bobcats," Micheal. Don't worry. (city-data.com)

At the time of publishing this, the New Orleans Pelicans have played zero games in the NBA. The moniker will replace NO’s current Hornets name in 2013-14 at the behest of owner Tom Benson, who purchased the team in April. The name change could alter titles in cities other than New Orleans, as well, as the Charlotte Bobcats are exploring the option of reclaiming their former label. President and Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield released a statement addressing the possibility on Jan. 22:

"We are aware of the impending change regarding the team nickname in New Orleans. We are currently in contact with the NBA and conducting our own due diligence relative to this matter. We will not have any further comment until we have completed this process."

Just as Chris Hansen will consider branding the franchise that eventually lands in Seattle as the Sonics or Supersonics, there is at least rudimentary support and reasoning behind the idea of bringing the Hornets back to Charlotte in name. That could be chalked up to nostalgia again, just like the twinges being felt in Seattle — or it could be because "Bobcats" is a weak pseudonym. Fans helped name the team, but with "Charlotte Flight" bringing to mind images of pro-am teams and "Charlotte Dragons" being outright ridiculous, "Bobcats" was the obvious choice. That it happened to tie in with the city's NFL team, the Carolina Panthers, was merely a consolation.

In recent months, Charlotte's team jerseys brandished just the word "Cats" instead of the full name. A franchise in existence just since 2004 should not be so quick to make such a move lest their image be questioned. Oops.

SB Nation's Kevin Zimmerman brings up another point, one which may be the tent pole reason if a name change happens: team owner and Justin Bieber fan Michael Jordan is willing to listen to arguments in favor of a Hornets return to North Carolina. Aggregated from ESPN and Gaston Gazette articles, Zimmerman also notes the old-and-maybe-future nickname is a nod to the state's tenacity during the Revolutionary War, which immediately makes it more intimidating than "Bobcats," which may or may not be a sly reference to the franchise's original owner, Robert Johnson.

A name change does not hinge on one person's opinion, however, and plenty of money has been committed to creating an aura for a team named the Bobcats. Jordan is and has always been his own man, so there is no reason to believe he will follow Benson's whim, but he and the rest of the Bobcats organization must recognize that part of conducting "due diligence" is considering the fan base's take on the matter. Change is not imminent, not should it be, but one thing is certain: Hornets are just a tad less cuddly than Bobcats.

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