The bug has been out of the bag for the Charlotte Bobcats for over a year now, almost immediately after the former New Orleans Hornets announced they were dropping their nickname in favor of the “Pelicans” last winter. After some due financial and league head office diligence, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan announced last spring that the team would indeed be re-taking the “Hornets” nickname it owned from 1988 until 2002, when former owner George Shinn moved the team to Louisiana. By the 2013 offseason, the NBA approved the switch, and earlier this season the squad revealed plans to retake the purple and teal color scheme that seemed to serve the franchise so well a quarter century ago.
All that was left in the rebranding was to unveil a new logo – even if it pretty closely resembled the Charlotte Hornets’ logo of old. During halftime of Saturday’s home loss to the Utah Jazz, Jordan moved to center court to unveil the new face of the Charlotte Hornets, and via the Hornets themselves, here is the new look:
Here’s the new look of the team’s old new mascot Hugo:
The Starters’ Trey Kerby thinks that Hugo might be outfitted in some Jordan Brand duds:
Via a press release, the team explained the impetus behind the new designs:
The primary logo utilizes the purple and teal color palette and features an aggressive-looking hornet that is ready to attack. Its piercing eyes, raised antennae, expanded wings and pointed stinger depict its relentless intensity. Incorporated within the logo is a basketball that doubles as the hornet’s body. The Charlotte Hornets wordmark is written across the insect. The logo contains several odes to that of the original Hornets with its white wings, white accents within its eyes, a stinger and the inclusion of a basketball.
The logo represents several characteristics of actual hornets, including their swarming and attacking nature, along with their fierceness and relentlessness when protecting their nests. These same characteristics connect with the city of Charlotte itself. The city’s rebelliousness, aggressiveness and protective attributes date to the Revolutionary War when British commander General Cornwallis referred to Charlotte as “a hornet’s nest of rebellion.”
“The logos are the foundation of an organization’s brand identity, and our goal was to design logos that would have awareness, be relevant and resonate with our fans,” said Bobcats Sports & Entertainment President & COO Fred Whitfield. “We developed a logo that physically depicted the characteristics and DNA of the type of team we want on the court, as well as those of hornets and the city of Charlotte.”
It’s possible that some might not be comfortable with the “what’s old is new again”-approach, even if the color scheme, logo, and mascot are slightly different. A switch like this is understandable, though, when you factor in how miserable life has been for Charlotte NBA fans since 2002.
Former owner Shinn disgusted the city with his off the court antics and meddling, moving to New Orleans with no real assurance that NOLA could support a team any better than the Queen City, leaving a community that once routinely packed the Charlotte Coliseum to the brim to watch their Hornets play. Shinn eventually sold his Hornets to the NBA (who moved the team along to Tom Benson), while the league – mindful that the NBA had an uneven number of teams and that Charlotte fans once supported a franchise in droves – decided to expand and add another Charlotte team soon after.
Robert Johnson would own that franchise, choosing the nickname “Bobcats” in part because of his own nickname (it was “Bob,” guys), before initiating a rather unsuccessful first half-decade in the NBA. Adding Jordan as a personnel chief in 2006 helped only slightly, as MJ went all-in on a series of win now talents with little upside, making the playoffs in 2009 but only with a mediocre record, falling back into the lottery (where Jordan has often whiffed with draft picks) the year after. Jordan took over as owner midway through the 2009-10 season, cutting payroll and presiding over a withering run from 2011 to 2013, one that saw the Bobcats win just 28 times in 148 tries.
Things have improved this year under new coach Steve Clifford (the team’s sixth coach during Jordan’s tenure), to 13-15, but by and large this has been a miserable run. Even if the team does make the playoffs this year for the second time in its history, there are a whole lot of Charlotte fans that would prefer to forget 2002-2014 ever happened.
Changing the team’s name, colors and logo in time for 2014-15 could go a long way toward aiding in that selective amnesia. Welcome back, Hugo.
- - - - - - -