NBA Saturday: Charlotte Hornets Return?
Is the Hornets Name Headed Back to Charlotte?
On Thursday, the team currently known as the New Orleans Hornets finally announced officially that they would be changing their name to the New Orleans Pelicans, and with the introduction came a new logo and color scheme. This change will take effect next season, and uniforms, according to the team, will be unveiled in a few months.
Meanwhile, fans in Charlotte already are wondering if their own team would pursue the now-abandoned Hornets name, returning it to the city that came up with it back in the late 1980s as a tribute to the city’s fortitude during the Revolutionary War, which inspired an opposing British general to call the city, “a veritable next of hornets.” A minor league baseball team in Charlotte went by the Charlotte Hornets for over seven decades, and a World Football League team also used the nickname there for a couple years in the ‘70s.
Clearly, “Hornets” was intended for North Carolina, not Louisiana, which was why the Pelican shift was made (though we’re still waiting on similar changes for the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Utah Jazz, none of which make any sort of geographical sense in their “new” cities). However, despite a press release Thursday in which the current Charlotte Bobcats organization said, “We are currently in contact with the NBA and conducting our own diligence relative to this matter,” which more than suggests the team is considering the name change, there’s no real indication that the ‘Cats will actually go through with it. The uncertainty circles around one pretty major thing: money.
The process of changing a team’s name, colors, logos, and merchandise is an expensive one. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports that it would cost the Bobcats about $3 million to rebrand, so before the organization dives head-first into kick-starting this major change, they are going to survey their season-ticket holders and the people of Charlotte to see if a name change would equate to increased revenue.
In other words, if the Charlotte Hornets don’t sell more tickets and merchandise than the Charlotte Bobcats would, is there really much reason to undergo so major a change, other than to jog up nostalgia for a team that’s been gone for over a decade?
Team owner Michael Jordan told ESPN back in November that he’s listening to those fans clamoring for the change, and that he’s not opposed to bringing teal-and-purple back to his home state.
“We would definitely entertain the opportunity (to change the team name and colors),” Jordan said. “We’ve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.”
Subjectively, “Bobcats” is one of the worst names in sports. The moniker was chosen in part because bobcats are indigenous to North Carolina, but also because they wanted to pair something up with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and there are some who still swear that then-owner Robert Johnson wanted “Bob” in the name as a self-reference. Either way, the name and current uniform set are both pretty uninspired, and with how dismal the franchise has been since it joined the league in 2004, it’s easy to see why that community would be pining for a change.
The process is supposed to take two years, but when the Hornets/Pelicans went under new ownership less than a year ago, they were given permission to fast track the process. Since the NBA already owns the name “Hornets” and all its trademarks, there’s a good chance the process could go quickly for the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets, as well, should they decide that is what they want to do.
In any event, while we should have the Seattle SuperSonics back next season, the return of the Charlotte Hornets is quite a bit muddier for now.
Darrell Arthur Bouncing Back
Memphis Grizzlies forward Darrell Arthur didn’t play at all in last year’s lockout-shortened season due to a torn Achilles tendon, which is a very slow and painful injury from which to recover. Arthur is fully healthy now, though, and with Marreese Speights recently being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in what essentially amounted to a salary dump, a ton of minutes have now opened up for Arthur, who told HOOPSWORLD TV that he’s more than ready to step up and accept the opportunity. Check out that and more in the following exclusive interview with Arthur:
Marc Gasol Doesn’t Mind Not Making All-Star Team
The general consensus in the aftermath of the All-Star reserves being named is that there really was no bigger snub in the Western Conference than Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, but if we’re truly going by size, the biggest snub has to have been Memphis center Marc Gasol.
Gasol is having yet another solid season for a Grizzlies team that has truthfully surpassed expectations through the first half of the season, and in any previous year, where the All-Star rosters had to feature at least two centers, Gasol probably would’ve gotten the nod ahead of some of the other players on the roster. LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t a center, and David Lee and Zach Randolph are more typical power forwards than centers, as well. Gasol is, behind Dwight Howard, the most logical selection as a backup center, but with coaches voting in “frontcourt” players now rather than getting pigeonholed into adding another Jamaal Magloire, it seemed almost inevitable that Gasol would be the odd man out.
“The NBA has to do what they have to do,” Gasol said in regards to the change in the way the All-Star team is constructed. “If you are named an All-Star, that is great, but it doesn’t take away your job if you don’t make it. You still have to do what you have to do.
“It’s really an honor because it means you are doing something good for your team,” he added, “but the goal is to win games and put this team at the highest level. Personal recognition is something you look at in the end, not through the process.”
It’s a mature way to see the snub, but Gasol truly doesn’t seem to mind not being on the roster. He’s much more concerned with his own team’s success, which, in January, hasn’t come as easily as it did in the first couple of months of the season.
“At the beginning of the year or the first quarter of the year we had a nice thing going,” he said. “But we went away from it a little bit and weren’t playing the way we wanted to play. Now to get back to that, it’s going to take a lot of patience and trust. We are doing a good job at it, but you got to keep it up. As soon as you let down again, all the teams in this league are too good not to play at the highest level.”
It’s that unpredictability that Gasol thinks could ultimately help turn things around for his brother Pau’s team in Los Angeles. He’s not enjoying watching his brother struggle this season, and in fact he’s not even relishing it as a Western Conference opponent.
“I wish he would have a better time and win more games because I know how bad he wants to win and how much it means to him,” Marc said about his older brother. “As long he does everything in his power to win and he feels good about himself trying to do that, I have no problem. I know he wants to win and give everything to that community and franchise.”
Of course, Pau’s struggles in L.A. are in stark contrast to the continued success the Grizzlies have had, which includes a win at home against the Lakers earlier this week. There’s no reason not to consider the Grizzlies a real title contender this year considering how well they’ve played at times, but while we wait to see how that pans out, we know for sure that we can’t consider Marc Gasol an All-Star. At least, not yet. Center or no center on that All-Star roster, Gasol is good enough to get his shot eventually, not that he seems anywhere near as concerned about that as his fans do.