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Charlotte announces historic name change, will go back to Bobcats next season

"We heard the fans, and listened," owner Michael Jordan said Wednesday morning.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that will undoubtedly be well received by fans new and old, owner Michael Jordan, along with President Fred Whitfield and general manager Rich Cho, announced that starting next season, the team would change its name back to the Bobcats.

"We felt this was something we had to do," said Jordan. "The Bobcats name holds such a historic and sentimental value to the city of Charlotte, and with the rest of the NBA community. With the success we had last season, and that season in 2010, returning to our roots made a lot of sense."

Whitfield, who joined the front office staff in 2006, echoed Jordan. "I've been here since 2006. Back then, there was a lot of pride in the name, and hope for the future. We want to re-capture that with this name change."

The Bobcats formed in 2004, after the original Hornets moved to New Orleans. Known for occasionally playing the Los Angeles Lakers tough, the Bobcats left an instant impression on the league.

"I have this metallic orange Emeka Okafor jersey" said Parker Smith, a sophomore at UNC Charlotte. "I wear it to music festivals and stuff. I didn't realize they had changed the name, so going back to the Bobcats is pretty cool."

Other fans agreed.

"Frankly, I'm relieved," said Thomas Wright, of Concord. "I bought my son a Lance Stephenson Bobcats jersey from TJ Maxx for his birthday, only to find out later that Stephenson never played for the Bobcats, so this works out really well."

At Wednesday morning's press conference, Jordan and Whitfield both agreed that fan support for a name change played a strong part in bringing the Bobcats name back. Citing a grass roots campaign started by former managing editor Ben Swanson called, "Bring Back the Bobcats," Jordan explained that, "The movement really touched me. The photo (see below) really showcased the best parts of the Bobcats. Brevin Knight, the video game Primoz Brezec, those guys were heroes to a lot of fans. It was time we honored them again."

When asked if this campaign to change the name back to the Bobcats was as big as the one to change the name to the Hornets, Whitfield nodded, adding, "I've had so many people tell me how much they missed Rufus. I had no idea he was so popular."

Jordan repeatedly stressed the success the team had as the Bobcats. "In 2010, we made the playoffs. In 2014, we made the playoffs. In 2008, we almost made the playoffs. Fans long for that kind of success again, and we feel going back to the name associated with that success will generate a buzz within the team and the city."

Former Bobcats players and coaches from around the world weighed in on the decision. "I'm thrilled," said Byron Mullens, who just finished up his first season in China. "I tell people I played in the NBA for the Bobcats, and they don't believe me. I show them my jersey and highlight tapes on YouTube, and they just shake their head and call me a liar. Well I'm not a liar."

"I won 44 games with that team," said former Bobcats, and current head coach of SMU, Larry Brown. "44 games. That's most in franchise history. I built that team, got them to the playoffs, and then they fired me next season. Ridiculous."

The name change will go into effect immediately upon seasons end. Whitfield expects it to be a smooth process. "We have all the old logos stored in a closet here in the arena, so it shouldn't be hard to put them all back up." Asked if the team would reveal a new logo, jersey, or color scheme, Whitfield said, "Probably not. In fact, we're going to go back to the metallic orange from the early years. Those jerseys didn't get enough credit. In fact, they were ahead of their time, as was the Bobcats name. I think this name change shows the NBA how serious of a team we are, and sets us up to be a one of the most noticeable teams for NBA fans worldwide."