After all of the headlines have passed and while the new OKC NBA team is on the verge of creating a new name, the supporters of NBA Basketball in Charlotte should recognize what has happened to Seattle. We’ve been through this. Somewhere in the days following the Charlotte Hornets achievement of credibility, and several seasons after the town hosted the All-Star game, things began to sour for the franchise. The Hornets’ owner was despised and refused to sell his franchise to any locals. It was made clear that our NBA team was only in town to serve as profit for the owners. Nothing more, nothing less. Does that sound familiar Seattle?
Much has been noted about the Seattle Supersonic’s long history as a franchise. The Charlotte Hornets didn’t stay around long enough to build that kind of history. While the team did lead the league in attendance, packing the Charlotte Coliseum for a run of years, the love disappeared fast. While the team was competitive until their departure, the owners had given up on the city and the city returned the favor. Nevertheless, Seattle seemed to show their support up until the end of the road. For that, they deserve to keep their team name and colors. The Sonics are a Seattle team and if the league brings a team back to the city, keeping that will mean a lot for the NBA tradition.
Most of Charlotte’s old Hornets fans would have preferred that the city keep the name. The team colors, logo, and mascot were altogether so very popular from the beginning. The teal and purple were very “in” during the 90’s and so was pro basketball. There are still many areas of downtown Charlotte that remain painted that odd blue-ish green hue. Though, as majority owner George Shinn left town with his Hornets, it was clear that no part of them belonged to Charlotte.
Unlike Charlotte, Seattle will keep the identity of its team for the future. When the NBA returns, the city can pull from the memory of Sonics-pride and all of the history behind it. The Charlotte Bobcats are a fine example of the hurdles faced by the alternative. They have had a very hard time drumming up support for the city’s new franchise. The NBA game is back in town, but it’s a new entity altogether. Owner Bob Johnson’s choice to name the team the “Bob”cats put off much of the public as another team owned by an individual rather than the city. With understandable hesitation, the fans have slowly returned and the city is now far more populated than it had been in the early days of the Hornets. While a smaller percentage of Charlotte may be on board for the Bobcats, the basketball fans are still around (partially due to the fanaticism of college basketball in the region). Still, it might have been a bit easier to woo crowds into a new arena with a “Bugs Are Back” campaign and the beloved Hugo mascot all over billboards.
Maybe one day the Bobcats can call to mind the kind of fond memories that the Charlotte Hornets had built.
But have you really looked at Rufus? C’mon.