The Charlotte Hornets turn 30 this year.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Hornets’ 2018-19 season will include a number of festivities, including several appearances at games by former big-name players and several ’80s and ’90s-themed nights. It’ll also include a 30th anniversary team, which will be selected via fan voting and revealed during a series of “Classic Nights” throughout the season.
And starting Saturday, the Hornets will be selling a selection of 30th anniversary merchandise in the team store. The team will also reveal a “Classic Edition” uniform before the 2018-19 season to wear for certain games.
Capping off the season-long anniversary will be the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, which will be held at the Spectrum Center uptown on the 56th birthday of owner Michael Jordan, who was, incidentally, the leading scorer of the All-Star Game in 1991 in Charlotte.
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The team that began as the first major pro sports team in the Carolinas wound up inspiring Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson to pursue his own dream of owning a sports franchise. The Hornets began playing in the NBA in the 1988-89 season.
“The Hornets put Charlotte on the map with pro sports,” said Pete Guelli the team’s chief marketing and sales officer.
Since the beginning, Hornets fans have had an affinity for the classic pinstripes and pleats made popular in the 1980s, as well as the Hornets name, which they welcomed back in 2014 following the team’s move to New Orleans in 2002.
After Charlotte was awarded an NBA team in 1987, the team’s owner, George Shinn, held a name-the-team contest with fans and “Hornets” was the most popular name. Shinn told the Observer at the time he liked it because of its historical significance in Charlotte.
During the Revolutionary War, a British military commander referred to the area as a nest of hornets, and the name stuck through the years. Two minor league sports teams used the name. The next most popular names? Knights, followed by Cougars, then Spirit.