From a perch near the top of the Western Conference standings, the Bobcats’ current home at 8th in the East may not be all that impressive. After all, the Mavs have rattled off 50-win season after 50-win season, they’ve been to the depths of the playoffs and back again, and they’ve battled some of the greatest teams the Western Conference has ever seen for supremacy for an entire decade. The Charlotte Bobcats, needless to say, haven’t been so lucky. They’ve had ownership troubles, coaching troubles, roster troubles, arena troubles, broadcast troubles, and fan troubles in the franchise’s six-year existence, and only now are they on the brink of a legitimate breakthrough. After much delay, the Bobcats may make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this year, just months after Gerald Wallace became the first All-Star in franchise history.
Charlotte has come a long way since 2004, and now with Michael Jordan in a more central ownership position, the team may be ready to make one final, superficial change: a departure from the ‘Bobcats’ name, one of the worst team names in the NBA:
Maybe all that’s needed to really complete the metamorphosis from struggling, small market upstart caterpillar into playoff-bound butterfly is not only a new man at every post save point guard and small forward, but a moniker change to accompany the face lift. ‘Bobcats,’ like the miserable threads that once bore the name, has to go. It’s not even a D-League-esque team name, like Moore mentioned. It’s the name of a seven-year-old’s soccer team, and one that probably couldn’t even make the playoffs at that. Bobcats aren’t just about as unferocious and unintimidating as ferocious cats get, but naming a team after an animal just isn’t NBA practice. It’s amateur. If you’re going to name an entire franchise after an animal, at least disguise it; not the Milwaukee Deer, but the Milwaukee Bucks. Not the Detroit Flaming Horses, but the Detroit Pistons. There are enough teams named after animals, I admit, but most have enough tradition that they no longer seem out of place. The two obvious exceptions are the Toronto Raptors and the Memphis Grizzlies, but dinosaurs are awesome and hilarious and Memphis Grizzlies still reads and sounds infinitely better than the Memphis Bears.
For the most part in professional basketball, we go inanimate (Nets, Nuggets, Spurs), confounding (Celtics, Lakers), or nonsensical (Pacers). It’s time that Charlotte buys into the tradition, and there is no better time than now. Regardless of what happens in the rest of this season, the Bobcats have been reborn. They’ve constructed hope without much potential, and they’ve created a culture and a family where there was nothing but confusion. I’m not saying anyone should buy into MJ and Larry Brown’s world like they buy into Pop and Buford’s, or Phil Jackson and Jerry Buss’, or Sam Presti and Scotty Brooks’. But there’s something going on in Charlotte that’s worthy of your attention, and it’s worthy of a far better name than the Bobcats.
You can read my full piece on the Bobcats at HP.
The Dallas Mavericks visit the Charlotte Bobcats: