The Charlotte Hornets have that mystique about them. If you followed the NBA or were a young kid during the 90’s, then you’ll remember how wildly popular this team was. While many were fixated on the Chicago Bulls’ legendary title runs during this time, the Hornets developed quite the cult following of their own.
Does anyone remember the Starter Jacket Era? If you do, then you knew that the Hornets Starter Jackets were among the most popular jackets worn by people back in the day. Maybe it was the bright teal colored jerseys that had such an effect on fans. Maybe it was the blend of athleticism, power, and charisma that the Hornets’ 1991 number 1 draft pick Larry Johnson exuded. Maybe it was the fact that the Hornets originally took residence back in 1989 as an expansion team in North Carolina, a state that is famously passionate about not just their Hornets, but also their Tar Heels, their Blue Devils, their Demon Deacons, and their Wolfpack to name a few. The state of North Carolina has been a basketball hotbed for years, and its citizens have shown their love to the Hornets by rewarding the franchise with sellout crowds in the old Charlotte Coliseum on numerous occasions throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
Of course, the Charlotte Hornets wouldn’t have the same allure that they have now without putting names to the legend that is the Hornets. Fan favorites such as Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Mugsy Bogues, Dell Curry (father of Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry), and Glen Rice were forces to be reckoned with during the Hornets’ heyday.
Fast forward to 2014, and after witnessing heartbreak on a few occasions, the fans in Charlotte have been through more than what the average loyal fan deserves to endure. They’ve witnessed their Hornets leave Charlotte in 2002 to head to New Orleans (where they lasted until 2013, changing their names to the Pelicans), leaving them without a team for a couple seasons. They then witnessed the years of the Bobcats becoming Charlotte’s NBA team for almost a decade, but the Bobcats just didn’t seem like the Hornets.
In 2013, then-Bobcats owner Michael Jordan made the decision to change the name back to the Hornets, a decision that could prove game-changing for the future of the franchise. I feel that the Hornets return to Charlotte will spark the nostalgic spirit of not just NBA fans in Charlotte, but fans across the entire sports landscape.
This upcoming basketball season, it might be time to dust off that Hornets Starter jacket that you haven’t worn since ’95, and take it to the cleaners to wear again. The “buzz” is back.