When my family moved to Charlotte in 1994, I had no idea that leagues like the NBA or NFL even existed. I was only 7 years old and had not yet lived in a big city so I wasn’t exposed to big arenas and stadiums. Then finally my dad took my brother and I to our first Charlotte Hornets game. The date: Saturday January 20th, 1996 vs. Golden State. I don’t remember anything about the game itself other than the score: a 110-102 loss. What I do remember is seeing people flashing their teal and purple attire, and I thought “Wow, that looks cool!”
It’s things like that make me appreciate Michael Jordan’s decision to change the Bobcats name back to the Hornets. I was too young to understand why the original Hornets left town in 2002. But I do understand why fans of our newer franchise, the Bobcats, wanted the old name back. After all, it is a bit egotistical for the owner to name a major sports franchise after himself regardless of whether he invited fans into the discussion or not. (Former owner Robert Johnson named the team Bobcats after himself.) Besides, the last thing this city needed was for the owner of the new team to get off on the wrong foot with the fans after how the previous owner behaved both personally and professionally.
One of the reasons I wanted the Hornets name to return didn’t have anything to do with any historical references that the name had to the city, I just thought any name sounded better than Bobcats. (However, any name sounds better than Pelicans.) Other fans just wanted to rid the memory of original Bobcats owner, Bob Johnson.
When the Bobcats arrived in 2004, I personally felt that the new team came way too soon. I knew that people in Charlotte were still angry at George Shinn and two years wasn’t long enough to heal the wounds. I think my point was proven even further after their first season. The Bobcats were 29th in the 30 team league in attendance that year. I still didn’t care though. Basketball was the first sport I ever learned, so when the NBA announced a new team was coming I was excited. The first Bobcats game I ever attended was when the Hornets returned to Charlotte for the first time. I still have the game program to prove it and the stupid hat they gave away if you, in exchange, gave up a piece of Hornets attire you still owned. Now I wish I hadn’t done that!
The current Charlotte basketball team team still sucks. If you want to have a real reunion when the Charlotte Hornets make their return opening night 2014, why not have Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson in the starting lineup? Hell, they could probably play better now than half the guys on the current roster. Let’s just hope they don’t take a swing at each other this time. Ok I’m kidding, well, sort of. Bottom line is the team needs to win.
Fans can only hope Michael Jordan’s big announcement last week will motivate team management to pick up the pace on trying to put a watchable product on the court. Sorry to be so blunt, but I am tired of losing. Charlotte is a basketball city. North Carolina is a basketball state. Nothing can change that. If this team becomes a winner again, they will have plenty of support . It may be nothing compared to those early years, but never say never. This city is buzzing again. I’m sure MJ is aware of how things ended the first go around. It’s highly doubtful that a guy like him, will let Charlotte be stung twice.