Monthly Archives: April 2012
Dear Mr. Jordan,
I am a 16 year native of this great state of North Carolina, born and raised to be proud of my heritage. Obviously, being that young, I dont remember much about the glory days of our very own Charlotte Hornets. However, I have some recollection of a very special night in my childhood. A night spent at the old Charlotte Coliseum on Tyvola. The Hive was alive in 1998, your final year in a Chicago Bulls uniform. The Bulls were visiting the Queen City for a short playoff series against the Hornets, which they took 4 – 1. My father brought me to see you play. Being a family of Tar Heel fans, your legacy was already cemented upon his mind during the 1982 NCAA championship. He knew that you were the greatest of all time. With the rumors swirling about your impending retirement, he took me to see his hero, in hopes (now fulfilled) that you would also become mine. But I digress: Mr. Jordan, I was not at the only win. But I can still hear the roar of the crowd and feel the atmosphere of that night. The buzz building in the arena became almost too much. The sheer joy of being at an NBA game. The noise meter going nuts. This was Charlotte basketball in the 1990s. The crowd was in full support of the home team, and I brought home a Charlotte Hornets stuffed mini basketball, a possession I still cherish and treasure. Then came the bad times. Even having been to only a handful of Hornets games in my life, I felt hurt and betrayed when our beloved bees skipped town and headed down to NOLA. I didnt consider myself a die-hard fan, but when the Hornets were gone, I realized how big a hole their absence left. Luckily, with the Panthers sudden run for the Super Bowl crown and some competitive teams on the football field, those problems were forgotten… temporarily. In 2004, Bob Johnson introduced Charlotte to his ego-based team, the Bobcats. Again, my family are big UNC fans, so I tried, really tried, to give the Cats a chance. After attending the home opener, I recall having Bobcats fever. When they drafted my two favorite Tar Heel players, Shawn May and Raymond Felton, with shiny new NCAA championship rings from the 05 season on their fingers, I was enamored. I became engrossed in following the Bobcats, but eventually, May got hurt and ceased to exist, except for the chair(s) he took up on the bench, and Felton was traded out. I grew less and less interested in the Bobcats and eventually settled on my new team: the Chicago Bulls. Why, you may ask. Simple: Michael Jordan. Derrick Rose is a bright face and fresh talent in the NBA, but if thats all that drew me there, I could have chosen the Heat with their Big 3. But, no, the draw of history and my favorite athlete of all time brought me to support the Chicago Bulls, something I still do. I still pull for the Bobcats. But its difficult to do so when the team has nothing that connects me to it. I grew up all but worshipping you, Mr. Jordan, and some of my fondest memories involve playing basketball on a Nerf hoop in my dads office room and imitating your famous tongue-out play. Thats what connects me to the Bulls. But I have a much deeper connection to the Hornets. The teal and purple course through my veins every bit as much as Carolina Blue does. In the past year, it would be hard to pinpoint how much Ive spent on Hornets merchandise, but its definitely much more than Id ever spent on the Cats. My Hornets collection ranges from your pair of Aquatone 8.0 basketball shoes, to the Summit Lake Hornets shoes that just recently released. I own numerous hats and shirts depicting the Hugo of old. The extent of my Bobcats collection is a free adjustable hat that was a game giveaway, a home Raymond Felton jersey (also a giveaway sponsored by the Presbyterian Hospital), and an orange, signed Felton jersey. Therefore, 2/3 of my 3 Bobcats items didnt require a sacrifice of money on my part. Is that really how sales should be? I know you once told Jerry Reindsorf that if he couldnt make a profit, he should sell the team. Im not suggesting you sell the team–Im convinced youre much better than what we would wind up with–Im suggesting you find a way to make profit. Its simple, really: Bring Back The Buzz. The We Beelive/Bring Back The Buzz/Charlotte Hornets 2.0 movement is simple. Were all Charlotte basketball fans. Some could even be considered Bobcats fans. But the only way to truly capitalize on the team and to draw unheard of crowds into TWC Arena is this: Bring Back The Buzz. Charlotte Hornets merchandise rules the day, Mr. Jordan. Even Cam Newton and Fabolous rocked Hornets gear with you in the room this past year. Assuming the draft goes well, theres really only one thing left to bring your reconstruction program to the point of its fruitition: Bring Back The Buzz. Return the Hornets to where they belong, in Charlotte. Its a simple request. Please dont hurt your reputation and shut out 83% of your fanbases wishes. You are North Carolinas favorite son. Why not
Dear Mr. Jordan,
I’m going to get straight to the point. If the Hornets name does become available, please bring it back home to Charlotte. There are numerous reasons to bring back the name. I won’t talk about all of them because I’m sure you’ve already heard them. The main thing is to realize that it’s not just a name to us. It’s an identity. It is who we are, the Charlotte Hornets. What we have now is a city with a basketball team that nobody half cares about. Yeah, there are people, not many though, who claim to be Bobcat fans. But none of them are passionate about the Bobcats. None of them are passionate about their home team like we were for the Hornets. And passion is what defines a franchise and builds it to glory. Not just passion from the fans, but from everybody involved with the organization. Without passion, there is no life or hope for future success. The only perk to coming to see a Bobcats game now is to watch the other team play. Far too many times you’ll hear from our fans, “Oh Blake Griffin is in town tonight, I’m definitely going to the game.” And while at the game, too many fans cheering to see nice plays from the other team. This franchise is an embarrassment right now. But not just right now, the last several years. Every year we’re consistently close to last in attendance. The last number I seen is an average of 14,000 per game, and you know half of them are just there to watch the Lady Cats because they’re more exciting than the basketball team. And I’m talking about the same city who led the league in attendance for eight years. The same city, the same sport, with a different name and different results. And there are people who say a name means nothing? A name is a large part to a franchise. People want to say, “Well the Jazz name in Utah doesn’t make sense and the Laker name in L.A. doesn’t make sense, but they’re winning, so the fans don’t care what their name is.” But there is a huge difference between us and them. Their fans embrace their name. They know it doesn’t make sense, but they still embrace it and wouldn’t want to ever change it. The fans in Charlotte have never and will never embrace the Bobcat name, no matter how good the team is. We don’t want to change our name just because we are having a historically bad season. Even if the Bobcats were undefeated, there will be many Charlotte fans screaming to change the name back to the Hornets. It is our identity. People of Charlotte are attached to the Hornets name. There is nobody that is attached to the Bobcat name.
Some people also want to say the Hornets are history and we need to just forget it. Those people were either not around this region back in the Hornets glory days or just can’t come up with a better argument for why we should keep the Bobcats. We’re not living in the past, we’re simply remembering how bright our past was and recognize the great possibility of how bright our future can be. Let’s say we get the number one pick and draft Anthony Davis. That will help add some excitement to the Bobcats. Let’s even say we get the number one pick next year. There will certainly be more excitement in Charlotte than there has been in a while, but the seats still will not be full and the fire and passion that was present with the Charlotte Hornets will still not be there. Also, there is a 75% chance we won’t get the number one pick this year. What if we get the third pick or even the fourth pick. Oh, I can just see that bringing tons of excitement for the 2012-2013 season. If you obtain the Hornets name back to Charlotte, that alone will excite more fans than a number one draft pick. That might sound weird, but that shows our passion for OUR Hornet name. This is clearly what the fans want, just as it shows on the Charlotte Observer poll, with an overwhelming 84% wanting the Hornets name, and just 3% wanting the Bobcats. If that don’t show you how the future looks for the Bobcats, then nothing will. How will the Bobcats ever instill passion in a fan base where only 3% want the name? Can you just imagine if the Bulls changed their name to the, let’s say Wildcats for example? Can you imagine the distraught among Chicago fans? They certainly would not say, “Well it’s just a name, it still comes down to what the players do on the court. Go Wildcats!” Instead, fans would fight and do whatever it took to get the Bulls name back, just as we are doing in Charlotte. We don’t want the Flight, Cougars, or any other name that has been tossed around as an idea. Those names would not entice more fans to come to the game and it would be like the Bobcats all over again. The only name we want is the Hornets.
From a business standpoint, bringing the Hornets name back would be the smartest thing to do. It’s been figured that bringing the Hornets name back to Charlotte would cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $10 million. Some people want to sit back and say there is no need to spend this money on a team this bad. Those are the same people who cannot foresee that there will not be a basketball team in Charlotte several years down the road because we will keep losing money and have to sell. Everybody’s heard “You have to spend money to make money,” and that is certainly the case here. Also, if we do not change the name back to the Hornets after the possibility has become so real, the Bobcats will lose even more fans and we cannot afford to lose what we don’t have much of. We all know that changing the name will not simply earn us more wins, but it will definitely get us back on the right track. It will instill that sense of Hornet pride back in the community, which in return will get people excited about the NBA again in Charlotte. It will automatically increase attendance. The players will have the chance to play in front of a passionate crowd, which will result in harder play and more wins. It will be a chain reaction in our community that will be fun to watch happening right in front of us. As bad as this season was, and as much pain we’ve all felt watching the Bobcats lose night after night, it will not compare to the pain we will feel if this Hornets movement is ignored and rejected. A change back to the Charlotte Hornets will easily help us forget all the terrible times the Bobcats gave us. Our future has a great chance to be bright. All we need is for you and Bobcats management to see how bright the future could be, and listen to your fans when we say BRING BACK THE BUZZ!
Dear Mr. Jordan,
Long before “SuperCam”, the internet and dvd’s dominated our world, there was the Charlotte Hornets. Every night the bugs took to the court, it joined not just a city, but a wide range of people together as one. The first time I saw the Hornets I was at awe. Finally we had a sports team. Finally we had “our team”. I was seven years old.
The cooliest thing was seeing Charlotte make the playoffs for the first time. The whole state was electric. Seeing Alonzo Mourning sink the historic Boston Celtics was magical. The Hive was rocking, and would stay that way for many years. Until the downfall of our once glorified leader in a scandal that rocked the city. Still, we pressed on, determined to one day finally wear that championship ring.
We grew up knowing the players on a first name basis. ” Man did you see was Zo did? How about L.J. or Dell?” I challange anyone outside of your front office to name every single Bobcat in franchise history. I am willing to bet there are quite a few people who can still recall the entire lineup of the Hornets first season. That’s the connection you are seeking with the fans. As the Bobcats, you WILL NEVER have that.
WE dont ask you, Mr. Jordan, we DEMAND Mr. Jordan a change. We need to feel the Buzz again. The same Buzz that sold out the Coliseum for years. The same Buzz that made thousands of people proud of their team no matter what the record. Mr. Jordan, BRING BACK THE BUZZ. BRING BACK MY HORNETS.
Dear Mr. Jordan,
I was born in Charlotte, and I grew up in a Charlotte Hornet environment. My family and I were huge fans, and we went to games all the time. I had all the Hornets gear, from hats to jerseys to shorts, and, of course, a Bulls 23 jersey. Here are a few words that come to mind when I think of Charlotte Hornet Basketball: electric, cheerful, and meaningful. Night in and night out, the team went out and competed with the support of the city. There is no other experience that can be compared to a night in the Hive. When we lost the Hornets, I was very upset. I couldn’t believe our team was moving. When I heard that it’s a possibility we could get the name back, I was ready to do anything I could to help this happen. I own a season ticket package with the Bobcats, and I have been to about twenty games this season. I would love to see the Charlotte basketball franchise once again thrive, and I will continue to support my team no matter what. The Hive can be alive again. Mr. Jordan, you have an opportunity to once again impact the basketball world and the great state of North Carolina. Please “BEE”-lieve, and Bring Back the Buzz to Charlotte.
Dear Mr. Jordan,
My name is Robert Allen and I live and have lived in Charlotte since 1987. I am not the best with the written word but I will do my best to convey how passionate I am about the Hornets. Moving to Charlotte at the age of 10 and not being into sports at all I was amazed by the amount of “Buzz” was flowing through the city about a basketball team coming soon, It was everywhere! My dad bought tickets to the first home game against the Cavs and we sat about as far up as you could go. To watch my new home team lose by 40 points and my new home town stay and cheer at the top of their lungs the entire time was amazing. It was something you only see in fairy tales “True Love”! So if you piece it together the Hornets were the first sports team I ever cheered for and that was the first pro sporting event I ever attended. That point on; I bled Purple and Teal, I was consumed by it! I stayed with the Hornets through the hard times even when the city was turning their back on the ownership. We had the best arena in so many ways, seating, capacity and parking to name a few reasons. (Didn’t mean to get off track).
When the Hornets left us I was crushed! The team that I had grown up with, that I followed while overseas fighting for my country, that I attended childhood basketball camps with (Larry Johnson Camp) was gone. Because of that betrayal I felt that meant the NBA was also gone!
When the announcement of the new team came around I was swept up in Panther Pride and had no interest in getting involved in another NBA franchise. Slowly, because of the great love I have for my city I started to root for the B__cats. I would follow the box scores and attend the games when I could. I followed the drafts and the busts we brought in, etc. etc. etc. The only problem was I supported the B__cats because Charlotte was attached, I did not love them. I would never buy season tickets for the B__cats and that has nothing to do with their record. I didn’t just support the Hornets because they were in Charlotte; I supported them because I had a personal connection to them. It sounds funny to me writing that I had a personal connection to a sports team, but it is true.
Charlotte can be a bandwagon city and when you are winning the masses come out, but do they really give a damn? Sure, if the B__cats played at a higher level attendance would be greater but would they be true fans, I say no. For me Mr. Jordan not only would I buy season tickets to the Charlotte Hornets day one of their return but I would hold on to them and bring my son to games and pass that tradition on to future generations.
The plan is simple, be a hero to a city that has not yet felt they can embrace you.
1. Acquire the name WHEN New Orleans releases it back to the NBA.
a. If the costs are too great then go to the community, BOA or Wells Fargo may help as a show of good faith to the public.
2. Announce the first home game as a landmark event, which it will be.
3. During halftime of the first Hornets home game retire Mugsy and Dell’s jerseys to show a commitment to the history of the city and team.
Robert J Allen
Muggsy Bogues talked with the guys from WFNZ this week and gave his thoughts on how the Hornets name could reinvigorate a stagnant NBA scene in Charlotte.
NBA Basketball in Charlotte: At a Life or Death Crossroads/A “We Beelieve” editorial by Steve Abramowski
For years, Charlotte’s basketball fans have pondered the idea of the beloved Hornets name returning to the Queen City. People have said, “wouldn’t it be cool if someday, New Orleans moved, or changed their name? Maybe we could get OUR name back!” For a while, that seemed like just a pipe dream, as Bob Johnson would never part with his “Bob”cats. However, things slowly began to change. Johnson sold his ownership of the team to the legendary Michael Jordan, then rumors came of the Hornets possibly leaving New Orleans (maybe to become the second incarnation of the Seattle SuperSonics), and then, the big nail in the “oh, it’s just speculation” coffin: Tom Benson. The longtime Saints owner recently purchased the Hornets, immediately saying in his relaxed, Delta drawl, “we want to change the name from Hornets … to something that means New Orleans and Louisiana.” If there was ever a court that would decide if Charlotte could have a crack at its historical name, just refer to the new Hornets’ owner as Judge Benson, and envision him deciding in favor of this golden opportunity as he proclaims, “Charlotte, the “Hornets” ball is now in your court!” The gavel slams the bench, the dream is alive.
The Bobcats have been very quiet in terms of the possible rebranding of their franchise. In fact, as such public discussion by one team on the assets of another is frowned upon by the NBA, you can’t entirely blame them. However, the mystery of what is going on in Michael Jordan’s head is driving Charlotte’s basketball fans crazy. Does he want the team to remain the Bobcats? Will the ABA’s Carolina Cougars name be returning? Does Michael remember the passion behind the Hornets when he would visit the old Hive as a member of the Chicago Bulls? Until a statement is made confirming any of these possibilities, the future of the franchise’s identity is unknown, and to many, in crisis. Never before in modern professional sports have we heard of a team having one name (Bobcats), branding itself on some nights under a retro name (Cougars), and being wishfully referred to by a third name (Hornets) by a solid legion of fans. If this isn’t an identity crisis, then Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde must’ve been twin brothers that pulled off one of the biggest pranks in the history of literature.
The point I want to make is a very simple one, and it is very clear to anyone who has been keeping their eyes and ears on the news of recent weeks. All restrictions that could have possibly kept the Bobcats from reclaiming the Hornets name for Charlotte are now gone. The way it stands now, the decision to rightfully return Charlotte’s name, which has history dating back to the infancy of these United States, solely rests in the hands of Michael Jordan. To Mr. Jordan, to team president Fred Whitfield, to general manager Rich Cho, and to whomever else has an influence on this decision, I strongly urge you to listen to your community. Charlotte is a passionate, caring city that will come together and support something they feel cares about and identifies with them, which is a sentiment symbolic of the relationship the Queen City shared with its beloved Hornets. From the team’s inception in 1988 and through the decade that followed, Charlotte proved it was the best city of NBA fans in the history of the league. The squad not only led the league in attendance at the old Charlotte Coliseum, the league’s largest arena at that time, but they sold out that old Hive for 364 consecutive games in a span of nine years. There were great players, a signature mascot in Hugo, unique chants, and memorable evenings that electrified the city, yet they were stolen in the most heartbreaking fashion in 2002, when disgraced owner George Shinn packed up his team for a permanent trip to the Big Easy. When the Bobcats came to town, they never brought in real impact players, they never fielded a team with a chance to win big, and they never made a successful attempt to reach the hearts of Charlotte’s lovelorn fans. Drafting of players like Emeka Okafor, Adam Morrison, and Sean May never came close to the significance of Rex Chapman, Larry Johnson, and Alonzo Mourning. The branding of the Bobcats screamed a blend of junior college (in name as well as its logo and color scheme) and narcissism, as it was clear the team was named after owner Bob Johnson. Due to the Bobcats’ record of failed experiments, distant ownership, and mediocrity on the court, the greatest disconnect in professional sports has developed between the team and its city. With the culture that buzzed around the lovable Hornets, and the culture that faintly claws onto the laughable Bobcats, there simply could not be a greater change of attitude in a city.
Teal and purple has once again emerged on the streets of Charlotte. Hornets gear from the team’s Queen City days not only dominates the apparel of the town’s current NBA tenant, but it is a best-seller all across America. You can easily find ten times the amount of Charlotte Hornets hats at Buffalo, NY’s Walden Galleria than you can Charlotte Bobcats hats at Concord Mills. Grassroots groups, such as We Beelieve and BringBackTheBuzz, have rallied the old Hornets faithful to the point where Time Warner Cable Arena has been swarmed by fans sporting Hugo, which has caught the attention of the local media, and is slowly making an impact on a national scale. With fans creating a noticeable buzz around Charlotte, and with Tom Benson’s announcement to rename the New Orleans Hornets, Metrolina’s major newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, asked the monumental question: which name do you favor for Charlotte’s NBA team? With thousands of entries, the city responded with an overwhelming support of 84 percent to return the Hornets name, whereas those who wanted to retain the Bobcats moniker only accounted for 3 percent of those who’d submitted a vote. Basically, that states for every single Charlotte fan who stands by the Bobcats name, twenty-eight want to bring back the name that is most recognizable with professional basketball in the city. Numbers didn’t lie from December 1988 to November 1997, and they certainly aren’t lying in April 2012.
In closing, I must state the most drastic point of all. Mr. Jordan, the ball is in your court. You were a hero of a generation on the basketball court, and you can be a hero now as an NBA owner. Your city, the beautiful city of Charlotte, features a sleeping giant of a fan base, one which feels disenfranchised by the decisions and actions of the owners who came before you. Mr. Jordan, you have an opportunity to take all of the wrongs, all of the heartbreak, and all of the apathy that surrounds professional basketball in this city, and crush them in your hands. You can make things right, heal our broken hearts, and return the passion for Charlotte basketball that has been dormant for many years. However, you also have the opportunity to further drive the stake into our hearts, killing our dwindling passion for the NBA in this town and driving thousands of us away forever. The Bobcats name is nearing extinction in one of two ways. If you return the Hornets brand to Charlotte, the Bobcats will be no more, but what you will see is a return of fan support, a growth of merchandise and ticket sales, and an identity that will seal your team’s security and success in Charlotte for many years to come. The general public is behind it, and these great people will support your team and bring increased revenue for you, so it is the obvious way to go in terms of business, your legacy, and the best interests of the city. If you choose to keep the Bobcats name, or choose an alternative such as the Cougars, you will see thousands of fans who are hungry for the Hornets look down upon you as if you had missed the determining final shot of a title game; one you could have very easily won. The hopes and dreams of these fans will be dead, and so will be their relationship with your team, which will eventually lose enough support and enough capital to no longer survive in the Queen City. Mr. Jordan, if you return the Hornets name to Charlotte, you will win, Charlotte will win, and our team will thrive, full of life that it has never experienced, but if you decide to turn down this golden opportunity that could seal your legacy in this town, you will lose, Charlotte will lose, and the once vibrant presence of the NBA in this town will eventually wither, decay, and die.
Dear Mr. Jordan,
I’m 50 years old. That makes us contemporaries in the same generation. I was graduating college and getting married just as you were hitting the big time. My husband and I moved to Charlotte in 1984 and had our oldest son the very year the Hornets first played. For years, our house was a sea of teal and purple punctuated by the occasional Bulls #23. The Hive was a celebration and late-night games on the radio a given. Birthdays and Christmas’ were all about the VHS of Space Jam, the latest Jordans or the video game. I watched our sons grow up loving the Hornets, following everything NBA, and looking up to you like some sort of superhero.
Please allow me tell you something about their generation that you and even your children might not realize in your insular world of super-stardom. The horror of 9/11 happened to them at the worst possible time. Our sons were 9 and 13 when suddenly all that was safe and predictable wasn’t. This is fact not melodrama. Hormone’s hit, grades dropped and they and many of their friends retreated into the security of sports and music. At the bottom of the pit of the worst parenting year I can remember – they lost the Hornets.
I am not the least bit surprised that our sons, Scotty and Evan, started Bring Back the Buzz. For ten years they bemoaned, and wished, and what-ifed about their Hornets until they were old enough to take matters into their own hands. They had to try. They had to give it their best shot in order for those wonderful memories from their childhood to be redeemable. It is the one wrong out of many that perhaps they can have a chance to help make right.
As a Charlottean I have worked for 28 years in and around the “history” community. I could spend many pages telling you about the American Revolution and the Hornets moniker. I could iterate the countless teams, both professional and amateur that bore the Hornets name. I will always have a deep seated resentment for any and all who allowed Shinn to slink out of town and pilfer this city’s identity.
You, Mr. Jordan by virtue of your power and your money have the ability to return to this town a piece of its rightful heritage. That alone would be worth years of PR and marketing. Still, I must confess, what I really want is for you to give back this bit of joy to our sons and their generation, to the parents who bought your gear and to the now young adults who worshiped you and still defend you. With this singular act, you will in turn gain their loyalty and that of their children.
It’s now clear that New Orleans will be doing their part.
I call on you, Michael Jordan to step forward and be the hero one more time.
Bring Back the Buzz!
Tricia (Mama Buzz) Kent