When the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans back in 2002, owner Tom Benson mentioned that dropping the ‘Hornets’ name would be a good idea, because it didn’t really make sense with the new location the team was in. It’s kind of like a case where the Lakers move from Minneapolis (in the state of 10,000 lakes) to one of the most urban and lakes areas in the world but they keep the name.
The Lakers were able to play out the name and make it work, by winning. The Hornets haven’t done that and while we’ve gotten used to hearing the New Orleans Hornets, Benson still wants to change the name a decade after the move.
Meanwhile, back in Charlotte, the owner of the city’s replacement team has been eyeballing the namesake of the team that left them in 2002, and should it become available, he’s going to make a hard play to bring it back.
“It’s definitely an interest down the road, but right now it’s the New Orleans Hornets,” Jordan said of re-claiming the Hornets name for his franchise and the city. “We would definitely entertain the opportunity. That’s as much as we can say right now. We’ve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.”
How is this possible?
When a franchise relocates, a number of things can happen to the namesake. Usually what happens is the team, the name and the entire history of the franchise moves to the new city. This was the case with the Minnesota North Stars when they moved to Dallas, as although the state of Minnesota has a new hockey team in the Wild, the franchise started new in 2000 and can never make mention of the North Stars history like it’s their own — even though it technically is.
But more often than not, if a team has a deep and rich history like the North Stars did, the city and state fight to keep at least the memories of the franchise. When the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1995, part of the deal was that the city of Cleveland kept everything about the franchise save for the franchise itself. When a new team was formed in 1999, it was because of this deal that the Browns were essentially re-instated.
The Minnesota Twins have such a deal in place as well, and have for some time as do the Seattle SuperSonics.
Charlotte wouldn’t become the Hornets again, but that name would be given back to the city and the people. What would then happen is the NBA would give Jordan permission to use Charlotte Hornets throwback jersey’s as part of the Bobcats uniform rotation. The final decision on the names of NBA teams is up to the league, but if it puts money in their pockets — as having brand new jerseys for both New Orleans and Charlotte would do– it’s hard to see them killing this deal.