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NBA approves Charlotte Bobcats' plan to change name to 'Hornets' in 2014

(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)

NBA commissioner David Stern announced Thursday that the Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the Charlotte Bobcats' petition to change its name to the "Hornets" for the 2014-15 season.

"I'm pleased to announce that the Board of Governors has unanimously approved the Charlotte Bobcats' application to change their name to the Charlotte Hornets effective following the 2013-14 season," Stern said. "I can't hear you cheering, but I know you are. The Hornets, of course, was the original franchise in Charlotte and I know there are so many in the region excited for the return to that name."

Bobcats owner Michael Jordan first announced his organization's intentions to pursue the Hornets name back in May.

"Let's bring the buzz back," Jordan said at the May press conference, noting that "overwhelming" fan support for the switch influenced the organization's decision.

The franchise also launched BackBuzzCity.com to celebrate the re-branding and manage interest from fans interested in season tickets.

In response to Thursday's vote, the Bobcats released a statement on Jordan's behalf in reaction to the vote.

"We're thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas," Jordan said. "The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn't be happier with the Board of Governors' approval of the name change. With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back!"

Jordan sought to reclaim the "Hornets" nickname after 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 original 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.”

On Thursday, NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver thanked Benson for allowing the Bobcats to adopt the Hornets nickname.

"I heard firsthand how important the return of the Hornets name was to the fans and the citizens of Charlotte, North Carolina," Silver said. "I'm excited on your behalf. I also wants to thank the Benson family for surrendering the name and returning it to Charlotte, its rightful owners."

The Bobcats 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." Jordan previously stated that his organization will begin a "year-long process" to select the team's colors and design the team's logo and uniforms.

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, who finished the 2012-13 season with the second-worst record in the league at 21-61, 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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