So lots of conspiracy theorists -- as well as some major fans of the old Charlotte Hornets -- are drawing a connection between the fact that some Charlotte Hornet-colored Air Jordan shoes are being re=released next week and the fact that the Bobcats are considering whether to change their nickname back to the Charlotte Hornets.
It does seem strange, doesn't it? The Bobcats' "due diligence" on whether to go retro and grab the old nickname is coming to a close before too long. And here is all this grape and teal merchandise, ready to go, under the umbrella of Bobcat team owner Michael Jordan's far-reaching brand.
Bobcat president Fred Whitfield understands why fans would make the connection but insists there isn't one. "It's a total and complete coincidence," Whitfield said in a phone interview.
Whitfield used to work for Jordan Brand, so he said he knows how it works in the company. "They plan the release or re-release dates of shoes way in advance -- about 12-18 months out," he said. "We weren't even seriously considering this name change 12-18 months ago, because the name at the time wasn't available. These two things are not related."
Whitfield said he did not have a date as to when the team's research will be complete on whether to re-adopt the Hornets' nickname (it became available when New Orleans, which had taken the nickname when the Hornets moved, announced plans to become the "Pelicans.") Although he was once a Hornets' season ticket holder himself, Whitfield said the club was being careful not to make a "knee-jerk" reaction on the issue and noted that some of the team's youngest fans weren't even born when the Hornets existed in Charlotte (they left in 2002).
As I've written before, I'm in favor of the Bobcats changing names and becoming the Hornets once again. But don't confuse this sneaker release with some sort of secret announcement in the way the Panthers' logo tweaks accidentally got leaked online in 2012 on Nike Football's Facebook page (via a pair of gloves) before they had been officially announced. This is not the same thing. The name change issue and the Jordan Brand are running on two parallel tracks. This intersection is interesting -- but it is not the final word.