Would The Return of the Hornets Bring Charlotte Basketball Back?


November 9, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Charlotte Bobcats point guard Ramon Sessions (7) drives past New Orleans Hornets center Robin Lopez (15) during the second half of a game at the New Orleans Arena. The Hornets defeated the Bobcats 107-99. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Who remembers the Charlotte Coliseum?

Not the Charlotte Coliseum the expansion Charlotte Bobcats played in from 2004-2005, but the Charlotte Coliseum that affectionately became known as “The Hive,” the home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets teal and purple created one of the more memorable NBA color schemesof the 90’s. On the floors of the Hive, Muggsy Bogues, Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Anthony Mason and Glen Rice among others played some of their best basketball.

The Charlotte Coliseum was home to one of the liveliest environments in basketball. From 1990-1997 the Hornets led the league in attendance. This was during a time where legendary teams like the Bulls and Knicks were in their golden years.

The interest in the Hornets dwindled in the late 90’s to early 2000’s before the team moved to New Orleans. The Hornets though were embraced by Charlotte for many reasons, reasons that the Bobcats have struggled to develop today.

New Orleans is dropping the Hornets name next season to become the Pelicans, the state bird of Louisiana. With the market for basketball in New Orleans questionable, new owner Tom Benson feels that a more homely name change will hit home with locals, perhaps in the way the beloved Saints have.

This leaves the door open for the Hornets name to return to Charlotte.

Owner Michael Jordan has said that he has interest in bringing the name back. Jordan played in the Charlotte Coliseum a number of times and should how emotionally invested the fans were for their Hornets. However, Jordan also knows that a name change isn’t the only solution to get the Bobcats to relevance.

The main thing the Charlotte Hornets had, that the Bobcats lack is an identity.

For the better part of the 90’s, the Hornets were known for their high-powered offense under head coach Allen Bristow. They played an entertaining style of basketball, which translated to wins.

The discouraging thing about the Bobcats this season has been their lack of potential in growing an identity. Even when your team is bad, you at least want to see some hope somewhere, even if it means merely being average at it.

They’re in shambles defensively, after showing promise early during their 7-5 start. Offensively hasn’t been that much better, though the Bobcats are +91 in their free throw attempt advantage against opponents this season, which was one of Mike Dunlap’s goals.

From a branding perspective,  more jerseys, hats and apparel would sell with the Hornets name back. Beyond the name, the most important thing for this team is to start showing more of is an identity.

If I had to put a scheme in place based off this season, it’d be offensive-driven. I can see the Bobcats over time being a fast-paced team, depending on catching defenses off guard in transition to continue their free throw advantage.

Right now the Bobcats perimeter scoring is their biggest advantage offensively. Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon, Gerald Henderson and Ramon Sessions all average double digits in scoring. I wouldn’t object to seeing more smallball. The Bobcats most successful offensive units this season mostly include a backcourt of Walker and Sessions. If you can surround our penetrators with shooters, it could be a tough guard for opposing teams.

This probably wouldn’t lead to the best half-court defense, but if the Bobcats continue to force turnovers (7th in the league), get better at rebounding, and utilize the athleticism defensively of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeffery Taylor and Bismack Biyombo, they could be adequate.

There are definitely a few different roads the Bobcats can take going forward. I like what Rich Cho has done so far, and I believe Jordan will do what it takes to put the best team possible on the floor. However, as much would love the return of Hornets Basketball and the Hive to Charlotte, no name change can hide that this team isn’t very good at basketball right now.

Tomorrow night, the Bobcats will host the Hornets. Both teams are in a rebuilding phase and hoping their young talent can lift their team in the future. While it’s a matchup of two struggling young teams, it’s also the last time the Hornets will be visitors in Charlotte.

For Charlotte, the Hornets represented a time where despite an NBA championship never being in reach, basketball hysteria was always in the air. It was the culmination of Charlotte putting together a team that meshed with each other on and off the court, and a fanbase buying into their talent and skills. There’s still a market for basketball in Charlotte, and fans are starving for a good basketball team.

A name can only take you so far, but let’s hope management can take it the necessary distance.