Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Michael Jordan gets one right

Four years ago, I wrote that Michael Jordan couldn't save basketball in Charlotte. His track record for building a team was dismal and he showed little desire to use his celebrity to charm the disinterested and angry masses.

Four years later, Jordan is responsible for the 2011-12 team that posted the worst winning percentage in the history of the N.B.A., followed by this past season's version that produced the second-worst record in the league.

NBA Mitchell & Ness - Charlotte Hornets Snapback Hats Cap 2 Tone Arch Logo - Purple/BlueIf you're going to lose, you better at least be likeable in the community. But the Bobcats haven't been able to pull that off, either. There are no beloved stars on the roster. There is no history to fall back on, at least, no history to this franchise that anyone cares to revisit. There isn't much to like, as the empty seats make clear.

So Jordan has done the only thing he could do to make this team embraceable in the community again: He has decided to rename the franchise the Hornets. For the few who don't know, that's the name of the former N.B.A. franchise here before it moved to New Orleans in 2002.

Some will no doubt look to the bottom line and question whether it is a cost-effective move for the franchise. Yes, it will be an expensive proposition. But Jordan really doesn't have much choice at this point.

In fact, switching to the Hornets might be the only real hope in the short term to bring back fans. Given Jordan's inability to build a winner to date, or even a modestly successful team, it's likely going to be years before this team is competitive.

In the meantime, the name change will create some much needed buzz around town again (excuse the pun). That's because there are people here who remember what the old Charlotte Coliseum was like back when the Hornets -- a name that has historic meaning in this city dating back to the Revolutionary War -- mattered to the community whether the team won or lost.

And there are people in Charlotte who never bought into the Bobcats for a variety of reasons, who hated former owner Bob Johnson for arrogantly naming the team after himself or just hated the way he alienated fans before selling to Jordan.

The Hornets name is both a link to a happier past and a desperately needed break from recent history.

Jordan has made a lot of mistakes with this franchise. This time, he got it right.

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