Charlotte is talking about basketball once again—not about the Bobcats, a team that has just shocked the basketball world with their ineptitude—but the possible return of the name that left for New Orleans a decade ago.
An online campaign has modestly been gaining momentum over the past few months. The New Orleans Hornets are being bought by Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, and the new management is already wishing to change the name in favor of something more intrinsically related to the region. Charlotteans are looking at this with optimism and hope that the Hornet name can come back to where it rightfully belongs — in Charlotte.
Let's face it, the Bobcats are going nowhere fast. We all know how bad they were on the court this year. Players who, by the end of the season, were aloof and seemingly bored with the sport. Fans who stopped caring long ago. There was a constant barrage of tweets and other headlines discussing the probability that we were watching history... the worst NBA team of all time, and very possibly the worst professional team in American sports.
Merchandise sales? Nope. Seats being filled? Nope. Excitement for the team? Nope. Trust in ownership? Absolutely not. Michael Jordan's legacy only carries him so far. Bad decision after bad decision has left even the most vocal of MJ supporters twiddling their thumbs waiting for something good to happen.
But nothing good has happened. Mediocre since their first season in 2004, the Bobcats have only one playoff appearance in their history... a 2010 seventh-seed berth where they were quickly shoved aside by the clearly superior Orlando Magic in a four-game sweep.
And of course, the 2011-2012 season: 7-59. A winning percentage of .106. Absolute embarrassment.
I could spend hours telling you what went wrong this season. Seriously. Throw a dart blindfolded after being spun around 50 times and that dart will still hit 15 problems with this year's team.
But that's in the past. And why dwell on that when we could look to the future?
The Bobcats have never made a home in Charlotte. Bob Johnson, obviously obsessed with cementing his own legacy in anyway possible, named the team after himself. A terrible, dull, meaningless name that has since become synonymous with mediocrity. A thinly veiled smack in the face on the city of Charlotte after losing their beloved Hornets, a name that means something in this area... a name that instills pride and a sense of community in Carolinians.
New Orleans doesn't want the Hornets name. Why should they? Similarly to the Bobcats, the name has nothing to do with the area. No regional importance, no pride, no history, just a mascot that no one can connect with.
But one man's trash is another man's treasure.
The New Orleans Hornets are rebranding. That's virtually a given at this point. Rebranding is a long, expensive, complicated process that takes several years to complete. But if the New Orleans Hornets, a team with virtually no financial success over the years can do it, why can't Charlotte?
The Charlotte Bobcats must start over. It's not a matter of rebuilding anymore. If Michael Jordan and company wish to have a team in Charlotte, they can't simply rebuild. They must demolish this shoddy structure of a team and its management, go back to the drawing boards and start over with a clean slate, hopefully propelled by the No. 1 pick in the draft this year, presumptively Anthony Davis.
There are some good foundations to build on... Kemba Walker will likely be an above-average contributor in the future. Bismack Biyombo showed signs of defensive brilliance. Gerald Henderson was the only player on the team that could consistently score. But everything else must be re-examined, and Michael Jordan should make it clear that no one on this team, not even the aforementioned players, are safe.
The Bobcats have already fired head coach Paul Silas. Silas did his best with a ragtag group of players, and was perhaps unfairly scapegoated this season as the reason that this team failed so miserably. Anyone with half a brain will look at this team as a collective failure, and there is not a coach in basketball that could have delivered 10 wins to the Bobcats this season. But perhaps a new face on the sidelines will help.
With everything in Bobcat-land changing over the coming years, it makes sense to bring back a piece of history to a team that has absolutely no identity. Such a change would cost millions of dollars and take years to complete, but at the end of the day, the beleaguered fans of this Charlotte team would love to have something to cheer for. Ticket sales to see the Hornets play in Charlotte again would go through the roof, new Hornets merchandise would be a hot commodity and MJ could expect to see a massive financial turnaround for a team that is seriously struggling to make ends meet.
And it gives the city hope — it gives fans of this sputtering franchise something to cheer for, and it gives this community pride in their basketball team again. Even if the team continues losing, at least they'll be losing as the Hornets. Not some team that no one really cares about.
To learn more about the campaign to get the Hornet name back in Charlotte, visit the Facebook page here. Show your support for a franchise in massive need of an overhaul.
Here's to hoping we can fill Time Warner Cable with purple and teal in the coming years, and get Charlotte buzzing once again.