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When Teams Move, The Name Should Not Always Move With Them

As the NBA lockout lingers on, I want to bring up something that has been on my mind for years now that is almost as important as all the financial issues that are keeping teams from taking the court at the moment. I would like to propose a three-way trade between the New Orleans Hornets, the Utah Jazz and the Charlotte Bobcats.

Now, if you’re a big NBA fan, you might think that I’ve conjured up a blockbuster deal that would send Chris Paul back to Charlotte to play in his home state – you’d be wrong.

While I think Chris Paul to Charlotte would be an awesome move, I’m talking about a three-way name trade. That’s right – a name trade.

Why is it that a team from New Orleans, named in 1974 for the music genre that originated there, still goes by the same name 2,000 miles away in the Rocky Mountains? The Utah Jazz? Quick: Name a jazz musician from the state of Utah. Jon Huntsman? That is incorrect.

In Charlotte, there’s a similar problem. When Charlotte was given an NBA franchise in 1988, the city voted on a team name, and chose the Hornets as a tribute to the city’s resistance to the British during the American Revolution. After the 2002 NBA season, when the Hornets were relocated to New Orleans by owner George Shinn, they too kept the same nickname. What importance does that Hornet nickname have now, when placed on a franchise playing in a city occupied by the French during the Revolutionary War?

To make matters worse in Charlotte, just two years later they were asked to adopt a different team, the Charlotte Bobcats. Now, it’s nothing against the Bobcats, but I was still a Charlotte Hornets fan by the time the Bobcats were taking to the court. At age 15, I hadn’t even grown out of some of my Hornets gear that I got when I was 12!

Teams don’t always decide to keep the same nickname when they move. Sometimes, they actually get it right. When the Cleveland Browns packed their bags and shipped out to Baltimore, they didn’t pack the name as well. Instead, they started their own brand, the Baltimore Ravens. Three years later, when Cleveland decided they still wanted to have an NFL franchise, they created a new team and reassumed their old name. The same was true when the Oilers left Houston for Tennessee.

Now, I’m not saying it’s always wrong to keep the same team name, but when there is geographic meaning to the name, I can’t find a good reason to cling tight to it.

Let’s get back to the Hornets, though. There might be some questions popping into your head right now. “Wait, Cory. What if Charlotte doesn’t want to go by the Hornets anymore?” “What if they like their new nickname?”

Don’t take it from me. Take it from a poll by The Charlotte Observer. They want their Hornets back, and I’m right there with them.So, I propose a three-way trade:

New Orleans gives the Hornets nickname back to its rightful owner in the city of Charlotte, and in return, they get to take the Jazz nickname back from the state of Utah. As for Utah, they can take the Bobcats name if they want to, but I would suggest they come up with something original that they can own. At first thought, I say they could pay homage to the Rocky Mountains and become the Utah Peaks – then their mountain logo would make much more sense.

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