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Reports: Charlotte Bobcats initiate 'Hornets' name-change process

(Dan Lippitt & Andy Hayt / Getty Images & NBA E) A side-by-side look at jerseys for the Charlotte Bobcats (left) and Hornets. (Dan Lippitt & Andy Hayt / Getty Images & NBA E)

The Bobcats have taken preliminary steps to bring the "Hornets" nickname back to Charlotte, according to multiple reports.

CBSSports.com reported Friday that the Bobcats are interested in reclaiming the nickname that left Charlotte when the original Hornets relocated to New Orleans in 2002. The New Orleans Hornets unveiled a re-branding in January and took on the "Pelicans" moniker immediately following the conclusion of the 2012-13 regular season, freeing up the Hornets nickname.

The Charlotte Bobcats are in the process of changing their name back to "Hornets," a source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com's Will Brinson, including arranging digital assets that would allow a return to their original nickname.

There is no timetable for the switch though NBA commissioner to be Adam Silver told Bobcats season ticket holders in April that such a change would take at least 18 months to implement.

The Charlotte Observer confirmed the report on Saturday.

The Bobcats have started pursuing a name change to Charlotte's original NBA team, an informed source confirmed to the Charlotte Observer. Though the Bobcats will need permission from the league to make such a change, incoming NBA commissioner Adam Silver has twice indicated that shouldn't be a problem.

What's still in question is when the name change could be implemented and how extensively the Bobcats would assume the Hornets' old look. The source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, would not comment on whether the popular teal-and-purple color scheme would return to Charlotte. ... Any change probably couldn't be implemented before the 2014-15 season.

Bobcats president Fred Whitfield issued a statement in January indicating the organization was exploring the possibility of a name change.

“We are aware of the impending change regarding the team nickname in New Orleans,” Whitfield’s statement read. “We are currently in contact with the NBA and conducting our own due diligence relative to this matter. We will not have any further comment until we have completed this process.”

Bobcats owner Michael Jordan indicated in a Nov. 2012 interview with the Charlotte Observer that he would have interest in reclaiming the nickname.

“It’s definitely an interest down the road, but right now it’s the New Orleans Hornets,” Jordan told the Observer. “We would definitely entertain the opportunity. That’s as much as we can say right now. We’ve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.”

The Hornets joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 1988 and spent 14 seasons in Charlotte before being moved to New Orleans by former owner George Shinn in 2002. Shinn opted to keep the nickname but eventually sold the franchise to the NBA in 2010. In April 2012, the league in turn sold the franchise to Tom Benson, who sought the Pelicans name change to better reflect the team's home.

“It was very important to me and our staff that we change the name of this club to something that represented New Orleans, Louisiana,” Benson said in a promotional video. “We worked on it. It wasn’t something that just came out of the blue, overnight. We worked on it for a long period of time. You just can’t have a better name for Louisiana and New Orleans than the Pelican. It’s the perfect representative.”

The Bobcats franchise joined the NBA as an expansion franchise in 2004. Jordan purchased a majority stake in the Bobcats in 2010. Last June, the Bobcats released new jersey designs, removing the pinstripes and changing the team's moniker on its white home jersey from "Bobcats" to "Cats."

While Bobcats are indigenous to the Carolinas, the Charlotte Observer noted back in December that the "Charlotte Hornets" moniker drew its inspiration from the 1700s.

The Hornets nickname in Charlotte dates back to the Revolutionary War, when British General Charles Cornwallis compared the resistance in Charlotte to a hornet’s nest. It has been used in sports by a minor league baseball team (1901-73), an upstart football league team (1974-75) and the city’s first NBA franchise.
The Bobcats have finished with a winning record just once and have made just one playoff appearance during their nine-year franchise history. The Hornets finished with a winning record eight times and qualified for the playoffs seven times during their 14 seasons in Charlotte, advancing out of the first round on four occasions.

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