Larry Johnson makes that teal WORK. (Getty Images)
When the NBA’s owners approved the Charlotte Bobcats’ eventual rebranding as the Charlotte Hornets last summer, it seemed like it was only a matter of time until the franchise officially announced it would be changing its color scheme as well. The press conference announcing the initial move was decked in teal and purple splashes, the team passed out teal and purple t-shirts to fans to hype the move, and it’s not as if Michael Jordan’s team is going to start strutting around in green and yellow, right?
Nah. The team announced the official change over the weekend, with the new/old colors set to hit in 2014-15. Here’s the splash page on the team’s official re-design website:
Here are the main colors:
And here are the secondary colors:
“It was important to us to acknowledge the heritage of the Charlotte Hornets when bringing the name back to the market,” said Bobcats Sports & Entertainment Chairman Michael Jordan. “The purple and teal color scheme was instantly recognizable as being associated with the original Hornets and we felt it was only appropriate to utilize the colors once again with this historic brand.”
If you’ll recall, that historic brand was cobbled together by famed designer Alexander Julian, a Charlotte native, who presided over what has been described a half-century later as a frightening debut. The Hornets colors were an immediate hit in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and as the Hornets grew to prominence behind the work of Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Muggsy Bogues, the team’s Starter Jackets, jerseys and caps could be seen worldwide, a rare bit of ubiquity for a small market franchise.
The city lost its team and its colors in 2002 when embattled former owner George Shinn jumped ship and moved the franchise to New Orleans. The New Orleans Hornets continued in that color scheme and name until this year, when new owner Tom Benson changed the team’s colors to a locally-derived set under the new name “Pelicans,” rendering “Hornets” and that teal design an unrestricted free agent.
Frustrated with Shinn’s embarrassing final few years in Charlotte, the NBA awarded the city a franchise soon after the Hornets left. The Charlotte Bobcats debuted in 2004-05 under former owner Robert Johnson, with Jordan not purchasing the squad until 2010. Though the team made the playoffs that season, they’ve struggled significantly in years since, setting an NBA record for worst winning percentage during the lockout-addled 2011-12 campaign. The team has improved this year under new coach Steve Clifford (splitting its first 14 games), the team’s four coach in three years, but it still has a ways to go in order to achieve NBA relevance under Jordan.
In talking with the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, the team seems to think so:
Pete Guelli, the Bobcats’ chief marketing officer, said polling of the Charlotte market indicated about 80 percent support for a name change to Hornets, and support for bringing back teal-and-purple ran nearly as high.
One interesting point about the accent colors: that “light blue” looks an awful lot like Carolina blue, a color Bobcats owner Michael Jordan wore as one of the Tar Heels’ all-time best players.
“We understand it’s an important color to the region,” said Guelli of the blue shade. “It scored high in our survey and was part of the original Hornet color palette.”
The Bobcats have already seen new revenue from the name change. There’s been an uptick in season-ticket sales – an 89percent renewal rate, plus about 2,000 new season-ticket equivalents.
Team management is waiting for league approval to start selling more Charlotte Hornets gear in the team store at Time Warner Cable Arena.
“Without a doubt, we can attribute (improved ticket sales) to the rebrand. People want to be here for the first season of the Hornets,” Guelli said.
That’s probably about the only reason the fans want to be around, but hey – it’s a reason.
For now, you’ll just have to enjoy the final 68 games of the Bobcats era. Until the team switches back in 2031, of course.
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