LAS VEGAS – Eleven years after Charlotte’s original NBA team moved to New Orleans, the Queen City got back its Hornets.
By a unanimous vote of the league’s owners at a Las Vegas resort, the Bobcats were granted permission Thursday to change their nickname to the Hornets. That change will take effect after the 2013-14 season, allowing enough lead time to switch uniforms, logos and signage in and around Time
Warner Cable Arena.
The Hornets moved in 2002 after owner George Shinn and city council failed to work out a deal to replace the Charlotte Coliseum. The NBA quickly replaced the Hornets in Charlotte with
an expansion team with new owner Bob Johnson called the Bobcats.
That name wasn’t well received by Charlotteans, some of whom saw “Bobcats’’ as a show of vanity by Johnson, the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television. Johnson ended up selling majority control of the team to Michael Jordan in March 2010.
Former NBA superstar Jordan frequently said his goal was to recreate the atmosphere he remembered playing against the Hornets as far back as the team’s debut season in 1988. The Hornets sold out the 24,000-plus seat Coliseum for nearly nine seasons, regularly leading the NBA in attendance.
The Hornets had a distinctive purple-and-teal color scheme, with pinstriped and pleated uniforms courtesy of North Carolina-based clothing designer Alexander Julian.
The Hornets name became available when that team was sold to Tom Benson, owner of the NFL New Orleans Saints. Benson told the NBA even before completing the purchase that he wanted to change the team’s name to something more Louisiana-oriented. The pelican is the state bird.
Once the NBA approved the Pelicans name, Jordan formally requested the Hornets name in May, in time to complete the transition by the start of the 2014-15 season.