After years of wishing and hoping turned to tentative excitement turned to a thrilling countdown, the Charlotte Hornets are finally back in their rightful home, to be officially announced at 12:30 p.m. EST today in a press conference streaming through Bobcats.com. (We'll have a thread for the announcement starting at noon for those able to watch)
Though many fans had hoped for the name change since the new franchise began, the chances seemed slim, akin to hopes that New Orleans would be able to reclaim 'Jazz' from Utah. Yet New Orleans took a sharp turn in thinking once George Shinn sold the Hornets to the NBA and then Tom Benson. Determined to give the team a new branding intent on connecting with New Orleans rather than maintaining the name that had clear ties and history in Charlotte, Benson and co. initiated the name change that would culminate in the Pelicans name and a new color scheme.
The clouds opened and the Bobcats, having done plenty of due diligence on possibly claiming the Hornets name, made the moves to do just that, abandoning the short-lived Bobcats name that never quite found a foothold in the community due to performance missteps and an owner who didn't quite endear himself to, well, anyone.
The Bobcats will be metaphorically left behind along with their legacy of incompetence and being known mostly as a joke, to most of the NBA's casual fans. That history will still be there, of course. A simple name change can't make us forget how the team has become what it is, as much as we might want to think as much, but a name with such a history as the Charlotte Hornets will go a long way to establishing new footholds in the Carolinas with fans who didn't follow the Bobcats after the Hornets left.
There's still a ways to go, both in the very real transition -- arena signage, new jerseys, etc -- and also a ways to go in the Hornets pushing their way back to prominence that they once knew in incredibly strong local support, mostly based in continuing building off this year's playoff team.
The name change doesn't solve everything of course, but it definitely adds on a new excitement to the team, turning the Bobcats into a team that naturally has a stronger connection to the area with more history, which I can't help but smile about.