Bobcats fans show support for changing the team's name to the Hornets. (Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty Images)
The news came down just after 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, courtesy of Charlotte Observer beat reporter Rick Bonnell:
Done deal -- the Bobcats are now the Hornets.
— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) July 19, 2013
The finishing touch on the long-discussed rebranding decision came during Thursday's NBA Board of Governors meeting at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, as the NBA's owners approved the Charlotte Bobcats' petition to shed the name they've had since joining the league as an expansion franchise prior to the 2004-05 season and bring back the familiar Hornets moniker that hasn't belonged to Charlotte in 11 years.
From the second that word began to spread about the New Orleans Hornets' impending rebrand as the New Orleans Pelicans, long-swirling rumors that the Bobcats would one day look to re-take the Hornets name gained steam and urgency. Subsequent polling showed Charlotte fans overwhelmingly supported the return of the Hornets name, which had belonged to New Orleans since owner George Shinn moved the franchise out of North Carolina following the 2001-02 season, leading Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to begin the process of reclaiming the name with the NBA.
The next step in that process came with the Board of Governors' vote Thursday. Many expected the vote to be a mere formality, since Jordan's request came after New Orleans willingly rescinded the Hornets nickname, outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern reportedly supported the switch and incoming commish Adam Silver reportedly backed the change so long as Jordan wanted it. Sure enough, the owners unanimously approved the name change on Thursday.
"We're thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas," Jordan said Thursday. "The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn''t be happier with the Board of Governors' approval of the name change."
So, that's exciting, right? The buzz is back! And, more importantly, all that teal clothing North Carolinians have had stashed since 2002 can make its way back into the regular rotation! I, for one, can't wait to bust out my teal cargo-pants-that-unzip-at-the-knees-and-turn-into-shorts.
Just one thing, though: We'll have to hold our horses on getting too amped up about the switcheroo, because it's a bit more complicated than just saying, "We are the Hornets now; everyone please refer to us as such." Bonnell explains:
The actual change in name, logo and uniforms won’t take effect until after the 2013-14 season because of all the changeover entails. For instance, adidas, the league’s uniform maker, needs time to design and fabricate new uniforms.
Beyond that, the Bobcats’ courts, both at the arena and the adjoining practice facility, will have to be resurfaced. Extensive signage inside and outside Time Warner Cable Arena will have to be replaced.
The Bobcats estimate the cost of all those changes will reach about $4 million.
This, of course, isn't unexpected — that's the rebranding timeline that Bobcats owner Michael Jordan laid out back in May.
One final lame-duck season of Bobcats basketball might be a bit of a bummer for Charlotte residents eager to shed the yoke of the team's depressing history — a 250-472 overall record, one playoff appearance in nine seasons, the worst single-season winning percentage in NBA history, no truly great or even especially memorable players to speak of (save a then-underappreciated Gerald Wallace). And it might feel like just more wasted time for those dying to return to the relative glory days of the Hornets — a 542-574 total mark, seven playoff appearances in 14 seasons sparked by stars like Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Glen Rice and Baron Davis, as well as memorable contributors like Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Kendall Gill, Anthony Mason and others.
After 11 seasons of waiting, though, what's one more year of delayed gratification? In just one season's time, the Hornets will once again call Charlotte home. Dig out those teal cargo-pants-that-unzip-at-the-knees-and-turn-into-shorts, brothers and sisters. It's finally time.
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