The Chalotte Hornets new Jordan Brand jerseys are finally here, and boy are they they almost exactly the same as last year’s!
The good news? Last year’s jerseys looked great, and the addition of the Jumpman Logo is an objectively cool upgrade with a built-in heir of exclusivity. Like the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don't carpet bomb fans with a four-day social media hype-storm leading them to believe you may be fixing said non-broke thing!”
Chicanery aside, these are great. The bad news? There is a possibility they could get worse. In addition to beginning a new partnership with Nike, NBA uniforms will be allowed to feature a corporate sponsorship logo for the first time in 2017-18.
A corporate logo doesn't inherently detract from the aesthetic of a jersey; in some cases they might even improve the overall look. I really like this mock up of a Cavs/Goodyear collaboration:
But the downside can be rough. If you’re selling ad space to make money, you might as well make as much as you can. At the end of the day if a mattress company comes in with the highest bid, you may just have to live with your sports-entertainment complex being called “Sleep Train Arena.” The difference between seamless integration and ham-fisted tack-on might just be a matter of luck.
Team’s don't have to have an advertisement patch of course — as of this publishing only ten teams have announced sponsor logos — but barring an unforeseen course correction, the Hornets will certainly feature one on theirs:
The Jordan Brand logo on @hornets jerseys is not their advertising patch. Team still looking for best fit for that deal.— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) August 1, 2017
I don't know which partnerships they may be deciding between, so in the meantime we might as well fire up the imagination machine. I threw a poll up with the first three Charlotte-centric sponsor ideas that came to mind, with a write in option to round it out:
The Hornets haven't decided on a jersey sponsor patch yet. What should they go with?— At The Hive (@At_The_Hive) August 1, 2017
Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits
The King. Arguably no brand is as lovingly tied to the identity of Charlotte as Bojangles. In America, regional pride almost often manifests into championing the local fast food establishment. West Coaster’s ride for In-N-Out; Texan’s are big on Whataburger; New Englander’s seem to be under the impression that Dunkin Donuts is not terrible, etc.
The Southeast cumulatively extols the virtues of Chic-Fil-A, but real ones know Bo’s is the true gospel. The food is legit amazing (Give me Bo’s vs. the field in a taste test on any odds) and they have long established partnerships already with both the Hornets and Panthers. Bojangles’ puts on for the city.
Put all that to the side. The reason why Bojangles’ should be the choice here? Swagger. Bojangles is a small market franchise that truly believes it’s the best fried chicken on the court, every day. They called themselves “Bojangles’ Famous...” right out of the gate. No hesitation. They have legendary sweet tea — that’s not an opinion, that’s its literal name. People were like “you got sweet tea?”
BOJANGLES: Nah, we got LEGENDARY sweet tea.
EVERYBODY: True. That is what this beverage should be called.
Bojangles’ will straight up hand you a tub of something called “DIRTY RICE,” through a drive-thru window like that isn't a made up answer to the question, “What would be the most frustrating thing to try and eat while driving?” Kemba has the Bojangles’ mentality. The Charlotte Hornets, as a team, should too.
Just think of how ugly that bojangles would look on the teal.— James (@sneak23freak) August 2, 2017
Fair point, James. I’ve taken that into consideration:
Cheerwine or Sun Drop
Got a several write in suggestions for Sun Drop, a citrus soda competitor of Sprite and Mountain Dew featuring a flavor palette somewhere between the two. A southern staple in the soda game whose identity, at least in my mind, is inextricably linked to NASCAR.
It seems to have retained some relative, likely nostalgia-based popularity. Dale Earnhardt Sr. is on the Charlotte Mt. Rushmore, and he repped the company throughout the 1980’s and early 90’s. But my most vivid memories are of the “Hey Dale! I’ll race you for a Sun Drop!” commercials featured not The Intimidator, but his brother in Dale-dom, Dale Jarrett (although I could not find any evidence these ever existed online? If anyone can find these please send them my way).
At any rate, it gets combined with and second billing to Cheerwine, who bought the company late last year. Having lived in New York City the past six years, I’ve had the surprisingly difficult experience of trying to explain Cheerwine on numerous occasions. It is neither wine, nor cheer (which, yeah...what would that be even?) or even an alcoholic beverage at all (this part is often the hardest for people to grasp. It makes no sense.) It’s classified as a “cherry-flavored soft drink,” but that doesn't really accurately describe its flavor. The closest comparison to me is probably Cherry Dr. Pepper? But again, its not quite that either.
Its undeniably niche, but also undeniably Charlotte. Cheerwine is a great little indie band; they're not the best and maybe not even your favorite, but you ride for them like that because they're uniquely yours. If Cheerwine ever blew up and became available everywhere at any time, it would lose that part of its charm, right? It would be cool, but it wouldn't just be ours anymore. And that makes a pretty good fit for the Hornets too. Although Cheerwine is proudly offered at Bojangles, which in a way just strengthens the case for them as the superior sponsor.
People were not playing around on this poll, and my jokiest-option (and sentimental favorite) coming in last here. Duke’s is the greatest mayonnaise ever created, and I will entertain no arguments to the contrary. Although not technically a Charlotte product, Duke’s is based out of nearby Greenville, SC and is somehow the third largest mayonnaise brand in the United States despite the fact that I’ve never seen it anywhere outside of the Carolina’s and parts of Georgia. Its probably available at least in all of the southeast, but I don't think anyone would argue with you if you told them the third largest mayonnaise brand in the U.S. was localized entirely within a southeastern Tri-State area.
By far the most popular write-in option was the rapidly growing Thomasville, NC-based chain. I first became aware of Cook-Out in college at UNCC, when I was living approximately waywayway too close to their university location. Some of my fondest memories are of staying up all night working on a paper, taking a break and rolling down the street to Cook-Out with $6 and somehow driving away with 76 items. Its the Nic Batum of fast food: a Swiss Army Knife that can do whatever you need it to on any given night.
Cook-Out was established in 1989 which makes sense— it has subtle, millennial vibe to its operation, prioritizing efficiency and endlessly customizable options over traditional industry standards like dining experience and ambiance (most locations don't have indoor seating).
I’m not sure how realistic of an option it is for Cook-Out itself, but I could see this being a great partnership for both sides. Cook-Out has come on strong with a surprisingly savvy and enjoyable social media presence recently. Bonus: they’re already in the jersey game, and have been periodically giving away these super crispy Nike x Cook Out jersey’s through social media and live events:
Here’s a Hornets tinged alternate mock up courtesy of @HornetsGIFs
The Dark Horse
Only Jordan— D.J. Davis (@djdmba) August 1, 2017
I like where D.J.’s head is at. The Hornets may have bungled their reveal, but lets take a second and appreciate just how cool these jerseys actually are. Michael Jordan was so good at basketball that his likeness became a logo for the company that is now manufacturing jerseys featuring that logo for the team that he now owns. That is a level of DIY ingenuity that I didn't even know was possible.
That being said, we all know the Hornets aren't leaving money on the table. I think D.J. is headed in the right direction though.
Michael Jordan owns the team. Michael Jordan owns the company making the jerseys. The jerseys are quite literally... Mike’s.
Jersey Mike’s. It was right in front of us the whole time! Its almost too perfect? Check this out; Jersey Mike’s Subs are all number based, right? I decided to do a little digging to see what player’s numbers matched up with Jersey Mike’s sandwiches:
- Number 15— (Kemba Walker): Meatball Sub. A New York legend. One of the best sandwiches in the game, doesn't matter what menu it’s on. You can walk into any deli and confidently order the the meatball and know it will get the job done. Meatball is a natural leader, it can carry an entire dinner by itself if needed.
- Number 44— (Frank Kaminsky): Buffalo Chicken Cheese Steak. No, this isn't a joke about how “chicken is a pretty good cheesesteak for a white meat,” or anything. ’Honestly I was shocked there was a #44 sub. What are the odds of that? but then I saw the top billed ingredient: Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. GET. OUT. OF. MY. LIFE. Are you serious?? How deep does this thing go?
- Number 1 (Malik Monk): B.L.T. Whats in a BLT? Bacon. Who did the Hornets draft along with Malik Monk? Dwayne Bacon. OPEN YOUR EYES, PEOPLE.
- Number 23 (No Hornet wears #23): Jersey Mike’s ALSO doesn't have a #23, hmmm how convenient. WHAT HAPPENED TO SANDWICH 23??