There was a dramatic countdown at halftime of the Charlotte-Utah game Saturday, like a shot clock about to expire.
But instead of a buzzer, fans at Time Warner Cable Arena heard buzzing. On the big screen, dozens of Hornets zoomed. Then they saw the logo that will help tell the story of the Charlotte Hornets, circa 2014.
It’s stately, the new logo, a Hornet with its wings spread wide. The Hornet in the new logo looks meaner and brings a harder edge than the Hornet in the original logo. If the new Hornet and the old Hornet fought, the new Hornet would win by TKO in the third round.
The original Hornet was happy and gentle. The original Hornets played their first game in 1988. Perhaps that was a gentler time, although we always ascribe the trait to whatever time we’re talking about provided it came before this one.
Until 1988 Charlotte had never had a major league franchise (at least one it didn’t have to share). Having genuine NBA players in our town was beautiful. New was beautiful. But new doesn’t last and the Hornets will never be new again.
The Bobcats, who officially evolve into the Hornets next season, realize this. They’re not trying to be the Hornets. They probably will not paint a mural featuring three of their stars on a downtown bank building. They will not open a roster spot for Young Tony Bennett or Tim Kempton.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the Hornets and Charlotte, the team and the town, were one. We were a college town, and they were our team.
The relationship was warm and rare, and fans won’t let go of the memory. Why would they? The drive to bring back the Hornets’ name was led not by marketers but by fans.
While a testament to the team’s beloved past, the logo and the branding will help tell the story of this team.
With point guard Kemba Walker playing like an all-star, with guard Gerald Henderson quietly having his best season and with Al Jefferson using Hornets’ era big man’s moves to score, it could be an interesting story to tell.