When Michael Jordan officially announced the Bobcats name change on Tuesday, it marked a brief respite from the unending horror of being a Charlotte basketball fan. At least for me. I’ve always hated the Bobcats name, and not just for its narcissistic origins with former majority owner Bob Johnson. I’ve hated it because an actual bobcat is not even remotely threatening as an animal; for me, the immediate image of a bobcat is of a helpless, half-starved, feral creature in a cage, wide-eyed with terror, the product of an animal control team response to several complaints of garbage cans being knocked over in the local trailer park. There’s a reason Lord Cornwallis never referred to Charlotte as a “veritable bobcats’ litter of rebellion,” and so with apologies to Ohio University alumni, “bobcats” is a fearful little quivering nickname that I for one am happy to release back into the wild of college mascots.
And I’m apparently not alone! 80% of the fan base approves of the nickname change back to the Hornets, according to surveys. I actually found this stat to be surprisingly low at first, only to discover afterward that 20% of the population also believes in witches. If you can only get 80% consensus on the non-existence of female sorcerers these days, then it’s no wonder that MJ’s marketing team moved quickly on the poll results.
Besides the general public, the experts also agree with the name change. “There is enough nostalgia about that name that they could get some good karma from it,’’ Columbia sports-marketing professor Joe Favorito told the Charlotte Observer in December. Although I find myself questioning the academic credentials of a professor who justifies a marketing move with ancient Indian-based superstitions, I’m just going to assumes he meant “karma” as a catch-all term for “increased ticket and merchandise sales and television viewership.”
And finally, aligning with the marketing professionals and those skeptical of the real-world ability to cast spells, the local press has jumped on board with the return of the Charlotte Hornets. Observer columnist Scott Fowler gave the move two thumbs up and immediately produced an enormously helpful to-do list for the soon-to-be-Charlotte Hornets. Among his suggestions were “hire the right coach” (#9) and “get better on the court” (#10), as if these were tasks that had just been slipping General Manager Rich Cho’s mind the last few years. I’m glad Fowler wrote those all down, and hopefully someone shows Cho that column, because “replacing the signage outside the arena” (#8) is another really good idea that we wouldn’t want to fall through the cracks.
Alas, the fresh-faced joy of the name change announcement was quickly put to the sword of the NBA draft lottery, in which the Bobcats finished a disappointing 4th. Then again, I can only get so upset over missing out on the opportunity to pick Nerlens Noel, who is essentially Olive Oil with a torn ACL. As Tom Sorensen pointed out, plenty of good players have been picked fourth over the years, although I would have found it more comforting had he not included Tyrus Thomas in that category.
In conclusion, I’m all for this name change, and I’m eagerly anticipating this draft as part of a new beginning of means-tested strategy. Cho has told reporters that “size, rebounding, and shooting” are the team’s needs right now. In other words, he thinks the team is deficient in basic basketball abilities, and I think he’s on the right track with that analysis. 28 wins over the past two years would be additional evidence, and let’s not forget what Fowler said in his list about getting better on the court. Sometimes it really is just a matter of doing what the numbers tell you, rather than conjuring it in fire, and 8 out of 10 people would agree with me.
(Reminder: Please don’t forget to check out my e-book at the following link)