The Charlotte Hornets was a fitting name — in 1775, just prior to the American Revolution, Lord Cornwallis referred to Charlotte as “a hornet’s nest of rebellion” and the people of that city have worn that rebellious badge proudly ever since.
The New Orleans Hornets… that name is just the leftover a team moved there then run into the ground by the previous owner.
With a deal coming soon for new owner there may a new name coming, too, reports Ian Thompson at Sports Illustrated (in a great look at the state of the Hornets franchise right now, with a hat tip to IamaGM.com).
The most interesting decision of the new owner may be whether to rebrand the franchise. Will the “Hornets” nickname be relinquished and enabled to return to Charlotte, where owner Michael Jordan could rebrand his own underperforming franchise?
If so, how would the basketball team of New Orleans rename itself? No suggestions will be made here, for the new name would have to represent the resilient spirit of New Orleans and its fans. It would be the finishing act of a franchise that has been reinvented, a team committed to the city that wouldn’t let go.
Jordan may or may not want the Hornets name back — a lot of people in Charlotte do not like Bobcats, as they thought previous owner Robert Johnson was naming the team after himself — but it makes sense to me for New Orleans to get a fresh start. Under the new lease deal they are committed to the city until 2024 at least, so they need to have something that works with the community.
This is not an easy market for the NBA — New Orleans was a small market and that was before hurricane Katrina, when many who moved away did not return. But go read the story, the city is backing the team and it is a franchise poised to make a big move if they can keep Eric Gordon and have a little lottery luck.