I’ve been a Charlotte Hornets fan for as long as I can remember. I started getting into basketball around the time I started jr. high school and they were one of the newest team, so it felt like a chance to get on board with something from the start. I really liked the teal uniforms, the cartoon logo and the idea of supporting a city I’d never even heard of before. After Charlotte drafted Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning to play with underdog point guard Muggsy Bogues, I was hooked. I still remember watching Zo’s buzzer-beater in Boston to win the franchise’s first ever playoff series. In the following years, those players were traded and the team changed but I kept following them until I was in college, when I just didn’t have enough time to keep up with the NBA anymore.
I started watching basketball again after I graduated college. I remember hearing that the Hornets had moved to New Orleans and my friend explained everything that had led to the relocation. I was disappointed but I loved the city of New Orleans and I thought it was cool that my favorite team was now in my favorite city. I really liked the alliterative quality of the new name—New ORleans HORnets—although I was never happy with the addition of gold to the teal and purple. I really liked the trio of Chris Paul, David West and Tyson Chandler, but my favorite player was easily Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson. I continued to follow the team during their two-year stint in Oklahoma City following Hurricane Katrina and after their return to New Orleans. Eventually the front office decided to blow up the roster and start all over, but it was when they scrapped teal in favor of ‘Creole Blue’ and redesigned the classic Hugo logo that I finally lost interest, feeling that my old team was truly gone.
I kept wishing there was some way the franchise could return to Charlotte and reclaim its once-beloved identity. My dream scenario was to have Salt Lake City, New Orleans and Charlotte swap teams, with the Jazz returning to their rightful home in New Orleans, the Hornets returning to their home in Charlotte, and the Bobcats moving to Salt Lake City where they would be free to choose a more appropriate local nickname. Of course that would never happen, but I got the next best thing instead.
The Hornets’ original owner, George Shinn, decided to sell the franchise but was unable to find a buyer. Eventually the NBA purchased the team and later sold it to the owner of the New Orleans Saints who quickly announced that he would rebrand the team to be more reflective of Louisiana (ultimately going with the questionable ‘Pelicans’ nickname). Meanwhile, in Charlotte there had been a growing moving, led by two online campaigns, We Beelieve and Bring Back the Buzz, to reclaim the Hornets name. Once the New Orleans Hornets rebranded as the New Orleans Pelicans, Charlotte Bobcats’ owner and chairman Michael Jordan commissioned a market research study and found that Charlotte’s NBA fans overwhelming preferred the Hornets name, and not long after he officially announced that the Charlotte Bobcats would become the Charlotte Hornets.
The new brand identity was unveiled during halftime of the Jazz-Bobcats game in December and, like most people, I was a little disappointed that they weren’t resurrecting the original logo, but overall I was pleased with the new look. It definitely felt like a modern version of the old Charlotte Hornets. It turns out that when the league voted to approve the Hornets’ name change, there was a stipulation that the team had to adopt a new logo. It’s a smart move because you can capitalize on both the excitement surrounding the new brand as well as fans’ nostalgia over the old look.
The new primary logo is sharp and more aggressive and strongly resembles the alternate ‘Fluer-de-Bee’ logo of the New Orleans Hornets. My main criticism of the new design is that it’s not as balanced as it could be. The old Charlotte logo roughly fits into an oval, or without the wordmarks, a rectangle. The new logo creates an upside-down triangle with sharp points which I don’t think works as well from a distance. I really think the orange (or yellow) basketball in the previous Hornets logos was another nice balancing element which is absent in the new design.
In addition to the new primary and secondary logos, the team has updated the classic Hugo logo as a ‘mascot logo’. Instead of hovering in the air dribbling a basketball, now Hugo’s thorax is a basketball. All I can guess is that someone forgot to feed the poor guy while he was stranded in limbo somewhere between New Orleans and Charlotte and he had no choice but to eat his only possession! This seems to have had the unintended effect of turning him into Super Hugo. Maybe we should call Nintendo and schedule a play date with Mario.
Here’s a couple of my ideas for what the new Charlotte Hornets uniforms could look like. I doubt they would be able to use the old script (a modified Rockwell Bold), but I would personally love to see the classic arched ‘Charlotte’ emblazoned across the chest of the Nike designed wishbone-neck jerseys currently worn by the Bobcats, Heat, Lakers, Mavericks, Pistons and Raptors. I don’t think this jersey lends itself to pinstripes so I prefer a cleaner look with this style. I’m guessing the new ‘Hornets’ wordmark will be used because it’s so prominent on the primary logo. I think pinstripes work well with a V-neck. We’ve already been told that Carolina blue will be used on the jerseys, so I think it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll see some blue stripes. I’d like to see the Hornets go the Lakers route and use teal at home, purple on the road and white as their Sunday home game alternates.