The Hornets Are Returning; Are These Classic Uniforms, Too?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER –One of the first NBA games I remember attending was in Charlotte, N.C., in 1989, during the Charlotte Hornets’ inaugural season. I was an Atlantan and a Hawks fan, but we were on a family vacation, driving somewhere or another on a route that took us through North Carolina. My Dad, a huge NBA fan, planned ahead and ordered Hornets tickets. We rolled into town on March 27, 1989, just in time to see the Hornets host the New York Knicks.

The Hornets weren’t particularly good — they were an expansion team, after all — but the fans there in Charlotte loved basketball and loved the Hornets. I convinced my Dad to buy me a Hornets caricature t-shirt featuring Muggsy Bogues, Robert Reid, Kurt Rambis, and several other players.

I settled in to root for the home team, and all these years later, I remember exactly two things about that game:

1. Every time Hornets center Tim Kempton caught the ball, the man behind me would yell, “STONE HANDS” at the top of his his lungs. I guess he wasn’t a Kempton fan.

2. Patrick Ewing destroyed the Hornets that night, finishing with 45 points.

The Hornets eventually got pretty good, drafting Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. They drafted Kobe Bryant!  … but then they then immediately traded Kobe to the Lakers. Eventually, then-owner George Shinn moved the team to New Orleans. The NBA added the Charlotte Bobcats to the league to fill the void. The Hornets were sold, the Bobcats were sold. Last season, the Hornets announced they would change their name to the New Orleans Pelicans. Not missing a beat, new Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan recently announced that his franchise will be changing its name to the Hornets.

This has spurred a torrent of Hornets-related nostalgia. Kobe himself took to Twitter and reminded us all of those few minutes when he was a Hornet…

In honor of the name change #13thpick #nbadraft #96 #freshface

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

BuzzFeed went long on the team’s history, reporting that their popular mascot, Hugo the Hornet, was actually designed by Jim Henson‘s daughter, Cheryl.

And then there were the uniforms. The colors and logo were unique enough to make them different, special even. WCNC in Charlotte dug up some old video from the reveal of the Hornets uniforms, featuring designer Alexander Julian and original Hornets star Kelly Tripucka. It’s especially worth noting the shorts, which are not only incredibly short by today’s standards, but also, as I recall, featured pleats.

It’s too early to tell which way the new Charlotte Hornets will go with their logo and uniform — they won’t be changing until 2014 — but as they’ve shown with the buzz they’ve garnered from the name change, it would be hard to go wrong by looking to their past.



  1. Arvīds says:

    I hope theyl be playing better with these changes

  2. bokzzz says:

    Great idea, Lang!!! How about they go further – and bring the old court paint within the 3pt line – God I miss these so much!!!

  3. jay says:

    i hope they bring back the original teal and purple uniforms. they were really popular and i loved them too! they would be the best uniforms in the nba as they were in the 90s

  4. hmmm? says:

    mark my words they will have the nr 1 draft pick in 14-15 season, nicely setup, that pick will become the star of the team and kemba, mkg, and the new draft pick given they will be still be there, will be the strong supporting cast if not one of them a pseudo star

  5. bob says:

    Bring back that angry green bee logo!

  6. stretch says:

    Could we just let New Orleans be the Jazz again and rename Utah to something that makes some kind of sense?

    The great Jazz musicians from Utah I know include um, uh…nevermind…

  7. lizz says:

    Before they fell apart and traded away everybody, that whole organization was awesome. I remember going to North Carolina and seeing the Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson banner down the side of the building. I hope if MJ ever does turn that team around they don’t let it crumble like the last time the Hornet’s were in Charlotte.

  8. BenM says:

    Going back to the early 90s look would be great.

    But I’d also love a black/yellow look.

  9. pablo says:

    This is what a genius like Michael Jordan can make! On my personal opinion this is a marketing bomb waiting to bring dividends to MJ’s pocket, and not just that, to bring a lot of fun and entertainment to Charlotte!

  10. K Jo says:

    Mark my words, this will not make this team any better.

  11. Ace says:

    For a season or two the paint area had a honeycomb design to it, I hope they bring that back, it looked awesome.

  12. robinchai says:


  13. JJP says:

    How about the Seattle Sonics?

  14. JJP says:

    New stadium, great market and uniforms are awesome! Phil Jackson may run the club….