Sports

What’s In A Name?

By Chris Johnson
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New York Knicks v Charlotte Hornets

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So what is in a name?  Well, to the people at bringbackthebuzz.com, it means a great deal.  The guys at Bring Back the Buzz have started a grassroots movement to help bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte.  So, what exactly would that mean for Charlotte and the basketball community here?

When I first heard of the idea I was automatically excited about it.  I came across the Facebook page, “We Beelieve: Charlotte … take back your Hornets!” and it immediately took me back to the days of the Charlotte Coliseum.  I remember going to games and watching the likes of Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and Dell Curry.  It was the first major professional sports team in North Carolina.  Sure, I am aware of the ABA Cougars, the Knights and other minor league teams in the area, but this was the NBA, and this was a huge deal.  It put Charlotte on the map.  We were no longer a city with a few malls and a Discovery Place anymore – we had a team to represent us and for us to get behind. To say that as a city we loved our Hornets would be an understatement.  The first seven years of the Hornets playing in the Coliseum they set the attendance record.

I can still recall my dad taking me to a Hornets game as a kid. For me this would be the first professional sporting event I would go to.  I think many people from the area probably share the same memory of seeing a professional sporting event for the first time in the Charlotte Coliseum.  I remember thinking Kurt Rambis was the coolest person I had ever seen in Rec-Specs.  There was a giant sound meter that would light up the louder the crowd got with different size Hornets each getting bigger the more deafeningly loud we yelled.  I can recall wearing my purple and teal hat donning the Hornet logo.  I can still recall the excitement of walking up the huge parking lot to the arena and seeing Hugo for the first time.  I still have fond memories of Kelly Tripucka and Rex Chapman.

So maybe it is the nostalgia of it all that attracts me to the idea of bringing the Hornet name back.  For me being able to conjure up these memories and go back to a team I loved as a child automatically is a plus.  The Hornets were here for fourteen years, enough for a whole generation of Charlotteans to grow up loving them.  They were here from 1988-2002, and I was the age of 9 to 23 while the Hornets were here.  Part of the problem expansion teams in sports have is that they don’t have at least one generation under their belt.  You can see it with the Panthers just now getting that one true generation under their belt.  Lots of time you hear someone say, “Yeah I love the Panthers, but I grew up watching the Redskins.”  The Panthers have now been here long enough to have that one generation of fans that when they have kids will teach them to love the team and so on and so on.  When the Hornets were moved to New Orleans, we had just gotten our first generation under our belt.  So, fast forward to 2004 and we get the Bobcats – well, that is not the team I grew up with.

Now while  I am not going to pretend like the nostalgia of the Hornets is the only thing that has kept Charlotte from endearing itself to the Bobcats the way they did the Hornets, it does lead one to think about it.  Sure, the way George Shinn left with Hornets and the way Bob Johnson introduced us to the Bobcats has left a bad taste of the Queen City’s mouth.  I think what the name change also does is it makes a clean start for the organization.  We can give all them a new chance.  While I think the Bobcats have had lots of bumps in the road, this is something that would show fans we hear your voice and we want to give you something you want.  At the time of writing this, an online petition created by bringbackthebuzz.com already has 2800 signatures on it.  A recent poll on WFNZ’s site shows 79.88 percent of people voting think Michael Jordan should change the name to the Hornets.  So the support for the name change is out there.  While it would be an expensive undergoing for the Bobcats and things with the New Orleans organization would have to happen, it would really rally some much needed support for the team here.

I will say that despite a name change there will have to be other things to change.  One thing the Hornets did do when they were here was win.  Of the fourteen seasons they played in Charlotte, they made the playoffs seven times.  The name change of course would help cause a buzz and drum up support, but whether the Bobcats are wearing teal and purple or orange and white, if they can’t win the support will be short lived.  There are a lot of things that will need to change at Time Warner Cable arena to gain the support that the Hornets demanded, but I do believe the name change is a step in the right direction.

If you want to show your support to the movement to change the name back to the Hornets, you can go to the website bringbackthebuzz.com.  You can also like their Facebook page, “We Beelieve:Charlotte … take back your Hornets!”  You can also follow them on twitter @BringBackTheBuz, and check out their blog at bringbackthebuzz.wordpress.com.  There is a “Swarm Time Warner” event where people will go to the March 30th Bobcats game against the Denver Nuggets wearing their old school Hornets gear.  I must give a big thumbs up to everybody that has made an effort to get the word out  to get the Hornets name back here, and I hope to hear the announcer at Time Warner Cable Arena announce, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to your Charlotte Hornets.”

I have been getting some emails from readers lately with questions, thoughts, and criticism feel free to keep them coming.  I am going to answer a few in an upcoming mail bag blog. So send to cjohnsonwfnz@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Radio 610 AM WFNZ The Fan.
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