Report: Charlotte looking to reclaim Hornets nickname to replace Bobcats

Jason Owens
May 18, 2013
Hornets

The Hornets might not be gone from the NBA after all.

According to a CBSSports.com report, the Charlotte Bobcats are in the process of claiming the name that resided in the city with the Charlotte Hornets from 1988-2002.

The name traveled to New Orleans when the franchise relocated, but recently became available when the Crescent City's NBA team ditched the Hornets moniker for the more apropos Pelicans.

It's a move that, if it comes to fruition, will be a hit in the Queen City. Between a terrible on-court product, a bitter taste from the loss of the Hornets and a general malaise toward the Bobcats franchise narcissistically named after founder and previous majority owner Bob Johnson, Charlotteans have had a tepid-at-best relationship with their current NBA team.

Since arriving in Charlotte, the Bobcats have made one playoff appearance and have a short but profound record of making poor personnel decisions.

But the Hornets – man, the Hornets. Now that's a different story. The basketball-crazed city fell in love with the franchise that arrived in 1988. Even when the team stunk, fans showed up and made noise. And after a few years, the Hornets actually got good.

Fans sold out the 24,000-plus seat Charlotte Coliseum for 364 consecutive games as the team with the iconic teal-and-purple color scheme won games with Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues.

But then it fell apart. Larry Johnson hurt his back, Alonzo Mourning took his talents to South Beach and the city grew frustrated with owner George Shinn, who became involved in a sexual assault trial involving a Hornets cheerleader and later made demands on the city to build a new arena.

The Hornets left town in 2002 and were replaced with the Bobcats two years later. The magic has not returned.

Basketball fans in Charlotte have clamored for the return of the Hornets since New Orleans started to discuss a name change. Majority owner Michael Jordan has been studying the business side of bringing the Hornets name back to the city; if the wheels truly are in motion to do so, there will certainly be a, ahem, buzz around the return of a beloved friend.

But a color scheme and Hugo the Hornet won't be enough to get Charlotte fully behind its NBA franchise. After a decade of miserable basketball, Michael Jordan's top priority is finding the next Johnson-Mourning tandem.

If the Bobcats keep losing like they do, bringing back an old nickname won't mean squat.

Jason Owens is an editor at Yahoo! Sports and still has a promotional jersey signed by Kelly Tripucka from his childhood in Charlotte.