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Bobcats seeks name change to reclaim Hornets buzz

By Rick Bonnell
rbonnell@charlotteobserver.com

It’s official: The Charlotte Bobcats plan to be the Charlotte Hornets.

The Bobcats formalized that intent at a 6 p.m. news conference at Time Warner Cable Arena, featuring team owner Michael Jordan.

As expected, the Bobcats wouldn’t be able to implement this change until the start of the 2014-15 season, as it would take that long to do all the rebranding.

The Bobcats formally requested permission to switch to the name of Charlotte’s first NBA team Tuesday afternoon. That request will come up for a vote of the other 29 team owners in July.

“Overwhelming you wanted the Hornets name back,’’ Jordan said. “When I first played here years ago, the thing I was totally astounded by was the energy. I wanted to bring that energy back.

“(This decision) says a lot about how we’ve taken the input from our community and put that in action.’’

There are some unresolved issues. Although Jordan and team marketing director Pete Guelli sat in front of purple-and-teal sign reading, “Bring the Buzz,’’ it’s still unclear whether the Bobcats would take on the Hornets’ old color scheme.

“We haven’t even discussed that right now,’’ Jordan said of the color scheme. “This is a first step. To say today we’ve come to that conclusion would not be an accurate statement.’’

The Bobcats did extensive market research, both with the Charlotte community in general and the team’s season-ticket holders and sponsors. Jordan repeatedly said that research showed strong support for a change to the name of the NBA team that played here from 1988 through 2002 before moving to New Orleans.

The name became available when the Hornets chose to be called the Pelicans starting next season.

“It was an overwhelming commitment to wanting the Hornets name back,’’ Jordan said.

Jordan said the team wouldn’t try to assume the Hornets’ records from when they were in Charlotte, but was interested in embracing players from that era.

“When the time comes we want to incorporate some of the past,’’ Jordan said. “Dell (Curry) is with the team (as a television analyst) and I believe Muggsy (Bogues) is in town.’’

Jordan acknowledged this name change is just one aspect of the many fixes the franchise needs. The Bobcats were an NBA-worst 28-120 over the past two seasons and will have their third head coach in as many seasons, after firing Mike Dunlap.

“I understand the name is a name. What we want to be proud of is what’s on the basketball court,’’ Jordan said. “I totally understand that. I’m not running away from that.’’

Asked about churning through three coaches in three seasons, Jordan didn’t offer anything specific:

“I anticipate these guys (president of basketball operations Rod Higgins and general manager Rich Cho) have done their due diligence. I feel very confident these guys going through the process to make the right decision.’’

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