Editorial: What's in a name? Charlotte's NBA magic is gone

May. 22, 2013 @ 05:52 PM

Are the original Charlotte Hornets far enough in the past for us to feel nostalgic about them?

Michael Jordan has asked the NBA to let him change the name of his Charlotte Bobcats to the Charlotte Hornets, the name that was taken by Charlotte’s first NBA team in 1988.

People loved those Hornets, in their Alexander Julian-designed uniforms featuring teal with purple pinstripes. Led by Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning and prominently featuring 5-3 guard Muggsy Bogues, a former Wake Forest star, they were upstarts, playing hard and overachieving in the 1993 playoffs. Everyone loved them, until owner George Shinn gutted the team and made a series of idiotic personal and business decisions, and then it just became too dispiriting. How can you root for a team when you know the owner is a jerk in his personal life and also doesn’t have on-court success as his top priority?

By the time the Hornets moved in 2002, not many fans were left. Shinn poisoned the well for the NBA in this state. Charlotte got its new team, the Bobcats, in 2004, but it has never been able to attain the support or enthusiasm the Hornets once enjoyed.

A name change helps send the signal that you want to get back to the feeling of those early 1990s teams, but it won’t really help as long as the action on the court isn’t good enough to erase all the bad memories.