Hornets name change finally viable for Charlotte with New Orleans officially becoming the Pelicans Thursday

Hugo on Fire? - Chuck Cook -US PRESSWIRE

With New Orleans impending official rebranding announcement tomorrow, the possible return to Charlotte basketball history moves another possible step closer.

The time so many have waited for in Charlotte pro basketball may finally be upon us.

Though the reports of the New Orleans Hornets changing their name, logo, colors and uniforms have been coming a long time, no official action could be taken by the Bobcats even to do market research. But now the time has come. Marc Spears of Yahoo! reports that the team will officially announce the changes Thursday.

With the move, Charlotte is already starting research with season ticket holders.

This comes as no surprise. Many Charlotteans have been clamoring for the name for years. The Bobcats name has always had a skeptical tie to original owner Bob Johnson's first name, as if he pushed the team's hand to make it so. Whether true or not, Johnson didn't exactly endear him to the community, not that he cared.

Normally it takes two years to implement a rebranding effort, simply because of speed. Names, uniforms and logos all have to bypass copyrights and all that legal mumbo-jumbo. What helps the Bobcats in possibly expediting it around the normal channels is that the NBA already owns the name and logo, similar to how it still owns the Seattle SuperSonics' brand. Perhaps a change could be sooner than later.

A return to the Hornets name would not only put the Bobcats' dismal history attached to their name into the rearview, in favor of evoking memories of better times. So long Matt Carroll, hello Muggsy Bogues. Farewell Lonny Baxter, welcome back Larry Johnson. Good riddance Alexis Ajinca, hello again Alonzo Mourning. Bye bye bad times, hello good times, right?

It would also assuredly have a positive short term impact, bringing in fans who have been waiting a decade to see this. New merchandise, new season ticket holders and heck, a new buzz about the team.

These aren't clearly problematic, however. The Bobcats would have a ton of unsold merchandise they'd have to liquidate -- merchandise that already doesn't sell well, no less. That means new signs around the city, new costs to redesign, new fees to change sponsorships and whatnot. It's not cheap to just change the whole brand of a professional sporting team. Bobcats president Fred Whitfield has said the cost could be $3 million, but still I think it's fair to say the benefits of reconnecting with Charlotte basketball history, making amends with old fans and cashing in on the 90s nostalgia fad would make it worth it.

Further, as neat as it is to return to Charlotte history, there's no guarantee people will all of a sudden support the team through thick and thin. I can tell you one thing. DeSagana Diop may look a lot cooler in teal digs, but I'm not going to happily watch him take midrange jumpers as if something marvelous has changed. No one's arguing that the team name makes the team better, but I have seen arguments that changing the team name would mean they'd suddenly devote their lives to going to or watching see every home game. Sure. A recent survey said only 20 percent of season ticket holders favored a name change, but that survey couldn't name the Hornets. Michael Jordan has said he's listening and research will soon advise them as to the path they will take.

It also raises the question of team history. Who owns what history if the Bobcats recover the name? Can Bobby Phills' retired jersey come back to where it rightly belongs? And I think it's a fair argument to wonder if the change would mean people voluntarily erasing their memory of the Bobcats, as if the past nine seasons didn't happen and Charlotte was just given the new expansion team. Can you blame them? Perhaps not, but it's important to remember even the unsavory things.

Regardless, this is an important development in Charlotte Bobcats and Hornets history that could unfold soon.

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