The Charlotte Hornets received a spike in attendance of over 10% last season. This increase was one of the largest in the NBA, trailing only Cleveland (Lebron), and Atlanta (The Bandwagon Effect). The rise in attendance can largely be attributed to the return of the historic moniker to its origins in a region that revered and coveted the Hornets name. This comes as no surprise as the original team was one of the first things, beyond banking, to put Charlotte on the national stage. It brought in the very sponsors that had avoided the Bobcats brand like a marketing plague. The old/new name also had apparel flying off the shelves with the first-night sales dwarfing all records the team-store had set on it’s best night with the Bobcats. The name brought fans. On many game nights the crowds went flocking to nearby uptown restaurants and bars. Venues like Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub were regularly packed because of their proximity to the Hive. The economic impact was obvious, and the Hornets made their money back on the cost of the re-brand almost immediately.
The excitement leading up to that first season was palpable The anticipation and expectations for the team had arguably never been that high during the entire tenure of the current franchise. The arrival of Lance Stephenson was controversial, but his presence resulted in many fans predicting the Hornets would make the playoffs somewhere between the 3rd and 4th spot. Stephenson was an exciting risk, and a personality that we had never gone for in the history of the organization. This move allowed us to believe that we were actually trying to win and even the the perennially cynical fans found themselves feeling the buzz as they were soon swept up in the hype. The opening night was so magical it almost felt scripted, but then the season happened. The injuries began to pile up and the hopes started to fade with the buzz, but surprisingly, fans kept buying apparel. The attendance dropped a little as the season progressed, but it was still better than what the Bobcats had come to expect. The name return had given the fans a sense of ownership and that pride has given the franchise a grace period to get it together. Even without last year’s disappointing record, attendance was going to drop this season. No matter how hopeful you want to be, the fact remains that was a lot of new season tickets to re-up.
Then the Hornets got Lin. My initial thought was not about the skill set that Lin had as a player on the court but of how much of a genius PR move this was. My brother and I were in awe. Not only is he a good player but you just saved yourself the
embarrassment of a noticeable drop in attendance. The man has 1.48 million followers on twitter and a fanatic following that out shined us in our own house in the heat of Linsanity (granted we were the worst team in the NBA at the time). I remember the one game specifically because Baron Davis got a standing ovation from the home crowd. He’s the personality we wanted from Lance but without all the blowing in the ear BS. This is how you let the rest of the world know that we are not the “Bobcats” anymore and that we are back to the cool teal and purple.
Bringing Lin to Charlotte is also an economic opportunity. The Hornets announced on Aug. 31st 2015 that they had landed a the first ever franchise tire sponsorship from MAXXIS Tire USA. Do you know why that is? MAXXIS Tire has followed Lin and partnered with every team he has played for from New York to Houston to LA and now to Charlotte. This is more than a team name or a popular player, this is the development of an exciting opportunity to grow franchise revenue and shine some light on Charlotte at the international level. This is a chance to showcase the fastest growing city in the Unites States and maybe bring more business here.
The team is also graced with the unexpected coincidence that they will be playing in Shenzhen and Shanghai on Oct. 11th and 14th to play in an exhibition match against the Los Angeles Clippers for the Global Games in a region where Lin has an ever growing following. Erik Spanberg even wrote that
“team executives plan on meeting with potential sponsors while helping a local recruiter make general business contacts for the region, too.”- Erik Spanberg
Lin’s popularity and level of comfort in front of a camera (as shown by his youtube channel) could really help the Hornets on their first appearance as a brand on the global stage.
The arrival of Jeremy Lin in Charlotte has been surprisingly ignored by the national media considering their almost Tebow-level fixation on his first couple seasons in the NBA. Then again, this team is flying under the radar of its own fans who largely fail to recognize that thru deft moves, Rich Cho is slowly trading a red paper clip into a red Porsche. This acquisition of Lin is not only a great fit on the court, but a great fit for the organization’s plans for growth… Business AND Player
(Written by David Walters)
There was a considerable buzz leading up to last season in Charlotte; the team was fresh off a playoff appearance and they were entering their first season as the rebranded Hornets. It appeared that the team was poised for an even stronger campaign in the 2014-2015 season but things were not as they seemed. The team was plagued with injuries throughout the preseason and, despite a fantastic home opener where Kemba Walker knocked down the game winner, things never really seemed to come together for Charlotte as they limped their way to a 33-49 record.
The Charlotte Hornets are now set to start training camp in their second season of a franchise renaissance. There are quite a few question marks going into this season after an extensive overhaul of the roster. With seven new players on the team, the Hornets have retooled the roster for this upcoming season by acquiring players that can help space the floor, opening up more space inside so that the existing core can play to their strengths.
Al Jefferson’s game is less effective when defenses can simply pack it in on defense because of a lack of floor spacing. Both Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist excel when they are able to get to the basket, an aspect of their game that was hampered when teams clogged up the lane on defense because of the lack of any reliable threat from long-range. I liken it to the philosophy that Orlando used a few seasons ago with Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard, where the Magic stretched the floor with four players whose range had to be accounted for, keeping defenses honest while giving Howard the room to operate.
The Hornets thought they had a steal last offseason after signing mercurial guard Lance Stephenson to pair with Kemba in the backcourt. It appears that the Pacers knew something we didn’t though, as Lance had chemistry issues and struggled to fit in. He was hampered by an early hamstring injury, and despite one memorable game winner, his time in Charlotte was painfully forgettable. The team flipped him to the Clippers in exchange for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes, who was immediately bought out. Hawes is a rangy big man, who had signed with the Clippers but never seemed to fit in…sound familiar? Nonetheless, he adds depth and range to the Hornets, keeping with the team’s offseason goals.
Gone is the team’s longest tenured player in Gerald Henderson; he was moved in exchange for Frenchman Nicolas Batum, a lanky wingman that will bring a versatile set of skills to Charlotte, albeit on a one-year deal. He will likely step in as the Hornets starting shooting guard, and the team will be able to use him as a playmaker at the position with his well rounded skill set. Batum offers size, court vision, and shooting range, albeit on a one year deal. Also moved in that deal was little used 2014 draft pick Noah Vonleh, who was injured in the preseason and rarely found his way off the bench in Clifford’s rotation.
In the draft, the Hornets continued their love affair with Big Ten frontcourt prospects by taking Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, college basketball’s 2014 Naismith Player of the Year. In doing so, they added a player that fills a positional need for them; what Frank lacks in athleticism, he makes up for with versatility and basketball I.Q. He can get buckets down low and he can stretch the floor with his shooting. He showed glimpses of what he can do in the summer league but there were also stretches where he would seemingly disappear for minutes at a time. However, when he was involved on offense, you could see how he could help an offense flow and, in a best-case scenario, he could be a great compliment to Big Al in the frontcourt. It will be interesting to see how the battle for the teams starting power forward position will play out between Frank, Marvin Williams and third year forward Cody Zeller.
Last seasons back up point guard Mo Williams is gone, having left to reunite with LeBron in Cleveland. In his place, is Jeremy Lin. I like this signing, I’ve always felt that Lin was a victim of his own success, and its overshadowed what has since been a very solid career. Lin will fit in perfectly in Charlotte and I think this was a great under the radar signing for the Hornets. Clifford has said he will experiment with lineups that have Walker and Lin on the floor at the same time, which could work well, allowing Kemba to play off the ball more as a scorer.
There is also plenty of competition for minutes as the first wing off the bench. Lin may get some minutes at the position but P.J. Hairston, Troy Daniels and newly acquired Jeremy Lamb will all be fighting for time on the court this season. Hairston is down 13 pounds from last year, having spent part of his summer training with John Lucas; a former player and coach that is known for being able to reach troubled players. Troy Daniels offers three point shooting, but says he has worked on the other aspects of his game this offseason in an effort to improve his value on the court. And , a former teammate of Kemba’s from their UCONN days, is here after spending most of the last three seasons languishing on the bench in OKC. All three can shoot well, and all three are hoping to find their way into a significant part of Clifford’s rotation this season. Ultimately, it’ll come down to who wants it the most, and competition usually does nothing but push players to get better, which should work out either way for the Hornets.
And of course, we still have our remaining core of players between Kemba, MKG and Big Al. Kemba was on fire last season, going on a tear of games with 30+ points before going down with an injury. He never quite regained that form after returning but this season he will have more help around him and he won’t be so pressed to take the scoring load all on himself. MKG, fresh off signing a new contract extension, is the lynchpin of the Hornets defense. When he missed games last season, the team suffered. He brings much needed energy to the Hornets and often draws the opposing teams top defensive assignment. Big Al has also cut weight this offseason, his reason being that he is trying to save his knees in an effort to extend his career. Clifford has said that he won’t be the main focal point of the offense this season, but you can bet he will continue to be a major part of what the Hornets do on offense, particularly now that the team has improved their floor spacing.
It’s an exciting time of year, training camp has started and preseason games will get going this weekend. Despite the question marks entering this season, there is an heir of cautious optimism after last season’s disappointment. Stay tuned as the Hornets get cranked up for the year, it will surely be interesting to see how things play out this season as Clifford has as dynamic and versatile a roster as he’s ever had. Speaking of Clifford, this could be a make or break season for the teams head coach. He coaxed this team to a playoff berth just two seasons ago and it will be paramount that he gets this team off to a good start out of the gates for the Hornets to jump into the mix as one of the easts top teams.
It’s getting to be that time of year again folks, soon enough we’ll be watching our Hornets take the court to sting the competition! Until next time, KEEP BUZZING!!!
you can follow David W. Walters @Original_DWade.