Michael Jordan: Bobcats changing name to Hornets

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP/WBTV) - Charlotte Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan announced Tuesday that he has asked the NBA to allow him to change his team's nickname to the Charlotte Hornets.

Jordan made the announcement at the Bobcats practice facility at Time Warner Cable Arena Tuesday evening.

"You guys wanted the Hornets name back," Jordan told the crowd gathered. "I was always astounded by the way the fans supported the team."

If approved, the Hornets nickname would go into effect for the 2014-15 season. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on the name change at its July meeting in Las Vegas.

"Let's bring the buzz back, and bring that energy back on the basketball court and make this city proud again," Jordan said.

Jordan knows that it will take more than just changing the name of the front of the jersey to turn his struggling franchise around — it will take talent. The Bobcats are 28-120 over the past two seasons, the worst record in the league.

"Ultimately we still have to play the game at a high level, which is what the Hornets did for a long period of time," Jordan said. "Changing the name does not guarantee that we're going to be a playoff-contending team. We still have a lot of work to do to build that. I'm not walking away from that. It is what it is."

He said it's too early in the process to know if the team will keep the Hornets' teal and purple colors.

The NFL's Carolina Panthers tweeted "Welcome back, old friend," following the announcement.

Reports have swirled for weeks that the Bobcats were setting the stage to change their nickname to the Charlotte Hornets. CBS Sports reported Friday that the Bobcats had already begun the process of changing the team's name.

NBA officials said earlier this year in a visit to the Queen City that a name change typically takes 18-months and several million dollars to rebrand all the teams merchandise and logo.

NBA deputy commissioner and COO Adam Silver previously said it would take "about 18 months" for the Bobcats to change their name. That means Charlotte could once again become the Hornets by the 2014-15 season.

The Hornets resided in Charlotte from 1988-2002 before then-owner George Shinn moved the franchise to New Orleans. The New Orleans Hornets recently changed their name to the Pelicans.

Silver said in an April interview if the Bobcats decided to change their name to the Hornets it would be "an enormously complex process and a very expensive process for the team. From everything to the uniforms, to the building, to the letterhead to the signs on the offices - all of that has to be taken into account."

While he didn't estimate how much the change would cost, Silver did say the fact that the league owns the rights to the name Hornets could help speed up the transition process.
"I'll let [the Bobcats] speak to their own time line, but we're supportive of whatever they do," Silver said in April.

The Bobcats conducted a Harris Interactive poll in January to determine if fans were in favor of a name change. The Bobcats have never announced the results of those polls.

The name Bobcats originally incorporated the first name of the team's initial owner, Bob Johnson, who later sold the team to Jordan in 2010.

In February, Jordan weighed in on the idea of changing the team's name to the Hornets in his monthly "Chairman's Corner" column on the team's website, but was initially non-committal on his intentions.

Although the Hornets never experienced much playoff success in Charlotte, they were extremely popular team among fans.

The Charlotte Hornets had a sellout streak of 364 games - a span of nearly nine seasons - before interest began to sag in the final years and Shinn relocated the team.

The Bobcats haven't been nearly as popular in part because of their struggles on the court.

They've only been to the postseason once since they began play in 2004 and finished the 2011-12 season with a 7-59 record, the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history.

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