Editor’s note: This is the first post from our new contributor, Jeff Hess. He’ll be focusing on bigger picture issues around the team, and starts with a post for which we can thank the Pelicans.Rebranded and Rejuvenated: Why Charlotte must seize the opportunity to be the Hornets once more
The modern NBA is all about the Brand. These days, NBA players are just as much businessmen as they are athletes. It is the reason fans see all the big name stars going to the big markets. So much so, that Commissioner Stern took notice and made changes to the new CBA to prevent it. Yet, under the radar, franchises are making a constant effort to further their brand. Each season, more and more teams release a new jersey or floor plan to try and bring some excitement for a new season. The most tangible effort this year is the moving of the Nets to Brooklyn. With a new stadium, new fans, and a total rebranding effort, the Nets have gone from the 30th to 12th ranked team in attendance. The move and rebrand have made the Nets one of the hottest tickets in the NBA.
Next year, the Charlotte Bobcats have a chance to do a similar thing. With New Orleans changing its name to The Pelicans, Charlotte is one step away from a rebranding effort that would bring the Hornets back to the Queen City. It has been just over 10 year since Charlotte was able to call its team the Hornets. It’s a change that would connect the city with the team and have Charlotteans excited about the NBA again.
Three seasons have passed since the Bobcats had their only playoff appearance since the 2005 expansion. That team consisted of some young talent like Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin, mixed with a good veteran core of Tyson Chandler, Stephen Jackson, and Gerald Wallace. It seemed like the Bobcats’ bad luck in the drafts was over and they were going to follow the same rubric as OKC is now. Unfortunately, that team fell apart and the rebuilding effort began. It was an opportunity to rebrand the franchise and look towards the future. This was reflected with the new jerseys featuring more Carolina Blue, along with the shortened named to Cats.
Now it is again time to look toward the future with the Bobcats franchise. It is looking more and more like Charlotte has finally found its cornerstone players in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilcrest. The future looks bright and Charlotte is buzzing about the Bobcats again. It is time for the front office to put the cherry on this sundae. It is time to go back to the roots of the franchise and become the Charlotte Hornets once again. After all, Charlotte is the “Hornet’s Nest” and the team name will go back to the town where it belongs. The city can have its team back, and the results would be palpable. There are old Hornets fans that never really jumped on board with the Bobcats, and there are young fans that will finally feel a connection with their home team. The city of Charlotte is ready to become Hornets once more.
The rebrand would cost several million to take everything that once was Bobcats and replace it with Hornets. This would be the only setback I could see with the front office not going through with this idea. But, most every team has something new for a new season. The Bobcats have a chance to do this in a big way. When it does finally happen, I believe we will see a rejuvenated Charlotte team, one that can shed a losing franchise moniker and replace it with a much richer tradition. If the front office can get the name change done by 2013-14 season, expect big things from the Charlotte Hornets.