Jon Martin’s Letter to Michael Jordan

Dear Mr. Jordan,

I was 7 years old when I attended my first professional basketball
game. It was 1992 and it was the Charlotte Hornets against your
Chicago Bulls. My dad, who was never a huge NBA fan, swung the
tickets to allow me to see my favorite team in person against the
greatest player in the world. It was surreal watching the Hornets in
person, instead of on our small TV tuned in to WJZY. I remember
standing there in awe during the player introductions, seeing Hugo run
out onto the court, seeing the fans morph into a single voice. It
really was magical.

That game started my passion for both basketball and the NBA. I
followed the Hornets religiously, even after the Panthers began in
1995 (though I do love my Panthers too). The Hornets were Charlotte’s
first love and, like any first love, always remained #1 in people’s
hearts. The Hornets moved to New Orleans in my senior year of high
school, and it was devastating. A giant piece of many lives was
ripped away for nothing more than greed, and it left a bitter taste in
many mouths.

While I continued following the Bobcats after their inception, many
fans did not. They were still angry at having THEIR team torn away,
and looked at the Bobcats as a replacement to the Hornets. Of course,
there are no replacements for the Hornets because of what they meant
to the community. The fact the Bobcats haven’t won very much, and
have managed to alienate people in the process with bad TV contracts
and a name no one liked, was just icing on the cake. The name Bobcats
doesn’t represent Charlotte – it represents one man, Bob Johnson.

While I go to as many Bobcats games as I can make (usually 15-20 a
year), the atmosphere is nowhere near the old Hive and the crowd only
seems to fill up when fans of the Knicks, Lakers, or Heat take over
the arena. It’s discouraging, and it’s not what the NBA in Charlotte
should be about.

I absolutely believe a name change will attract more fans. It will
re-energize people that are still bitter about the Hornets leaving in
the first place, and begin mending those bridges that were burned when
Shinn took our franchise to the Big Easy.

For people that say it’s “just a name”…they don’t understand. Like
a person’s last name, it represents history and significance that
can’t just be replaced. The name “Hornets” has cultural history in
Charlotte, which I’m sure you’re very aware of. Even when the Hornets
were bad, we were selling out the Charlotte Coliseum because, win or
lose, they were our team. And when something is yours, you don’t just
give up on it. There has never been a movement like this in
professional sports, and there’s a reason for this. The Carolinas
were passionate about the Hornets, and will be again. The teal and
purple. Hugo. The Honeybees. The Hive. Muggsy. LJ. Zo. That’s
OUR history, not New Orleans’. And while some may dismiss it as
simple nostalgia, it’s much more than that. It’s personal. To
everybody.

I would become a new season ticket holder for the first year of the
Charlotte Hornets 2.0, and I know others that would as well. You have
a good young foundation in place – Kemba, MKG, Bismack – and a good GM
running the show. Bring it all together, and bring the Hornets back
to Charlotte.

Because there’s another 7-year-old boy, somewhere, that should get to
experience the magic at The Hive for themselves.

Sincerely,

Jon Martin

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