RIP Hornets Name, Logo, Brand: 1988-2013

Written By:  •  Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tonight marks the final game the New Orleans Hornets will play before taking the court this fall as the New Orleans Pelicans.  It’s an exciting time for the franchise as the team gets a shot at a new beginning with a fresh brand, one designed primarily focused on the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.

With the arrival of the Pelicans comes the departure of the Hornets, their classic mascot Hugo, the logo, and colour scheme which changed the way several sports teams designed during most of the 1990s.

Charlotte Hornets Unveil Uniforms 1988

Charlotte Hornets Unveil Original Team Uniforms in 1988 – the teal craze is born

The Charlotte Hornets, as they were originally known, were admitted to the National Basketball Association on April 22, 1987 (why, it’s almost the anniversary!) along with Miami, Minneapolis, and Orlando.  Charlotte’s entry started play along with the Miami Heat in the 1988/89 NBA season and were named after how one British commander described the Charlotte area during the Revolutionary War, a “veritable hornet’s nest of rebellion”.

1988-89 Charlotte Hornets

The expansion Hornets: 1988-89 season.  Love the warmup shirts…

The Hornets introduced the colour teal to sports, it was an instant hit – spreading fast to hockey with the San Jose Sharks, baseball with the Florida Marlins, and to other basketball teams – even changing the classic red, white, and blue of the Detroit Pistons to teal, black, and red. Impossible to think such a time existed.  The teal stuck around for over two decades with this franchise surviving a move to New Orleans and a temporary shift to Oklahoma City, surviving several new owners, and brand modernizing.

Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogus, Alonzo Mourning

Larry Johnson, Muggsy Bogus, and Alonzo Mourning, *THE* Hornets of the 90s

The club never tasted much post-season success only winning a couple of playoff series in their years (including a stunning elimination of the Boston Celtics in 1993) but there were certainly memorable moments despite this.

They defeated “His Airness” Michael Jordan in his first pro game back in North Carolina in 1988; sold out the Charlotte Coliseum for their first ten! seasons (and this wasn’t some tiny arena – the Coliseum held 24,000 people!); they were there when the city of New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and their temporary relocation during the cleanup paved the way for Oklahoma City to get their own NBA team a few seasons later.

Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets

Chris Paul was the face of the franchise during most of their years in New Orleans

Chris Paul dominated, Bobby Phills was remembered, Kobe Bryant was traded before ever playing a game for them, and they celebrated a Southeast Division title in 2008.

Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, David West, Baron Davis, Dell Curry, Glen Rice as well as those mentioned in the preceding paragraph… these names will forever be attached with the Hornets brand to me and many others who have watched basketball in the past few decades.

Kobe Bryant Charlotte Hornets

Kobe Bryant’s brief tenure as a Hornet

In all, the Hornets brand lasted for a good quarter-century before New Orleans and new team owner Tom Benson wanted to put their own stamp on the franchise (and you can’t really blame them), the Hornets name is now free for a potential return to Charlotte where the city’s current NBA team, the Bobcats, are reportedly considering a switch back to Hugo and the classic teal and purple.

Goodbye Hornets… a look back at their primary logos over the years

Tonight we bid farewell (but for how long?) to this classic logo, to this revolutionary colour scheme, and a basketball team name nobody will ever forget. Time to bring on the Pelicans.


UPDATE (4/18/13 10:30am ET): The Hornets ended up losing their final game last night, the host Dallas Mavericks came out on top 99-87.  A couple of photos below of the last time these will be seen on the court (eh, until some Pelicans @ Hornets throwback game happens 10-15 years from now):

New Orleans Hornets Final Game

New Orleans Hornets Final Game

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Chris Creamer

Chris Creamer is the founder of SportsLogos.Net and has been maintaining it since June 1997. You can follow him on Twitter at @sportslogosnet or contact him via email at

  • John Pat Sher

    Hopefully Charlotte resurrects the name!

    • MJofLakeland1

      The Pelicans over the Hornets because it’s the state’s national bird. I’m guessing wasps doesn’t fly around, stinging people all around New Orleans?… You throw bread at a pelican they go flying in fear.

      Charlotte please resurrect the Hornets name, because the Bobcats is D-League material, along with the logo… 😛

  • John Lucas Jr

    Bring Back the Buzz!

  • Stuart Ratliff

    I would say 18-24 months is how long the Hornets will be gone from the NBA

  • Delayed Penalty

    Are the Bobcats allowed to just assume the Hornets branding that exists (minus ties to NOLA) or is that still the property of the New Orleans franchise? Is a complete redesign required?

  • It was stated here in Charlotte radio that potentially 18-24 month turnaround

  • Creussner

    The Hornets should come back to Charlotte.

  • Jimmy Kemp

    Charlotte needs change back to Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets were at least fun, made the playoffs, and had a great looking logo and uniforms, the Bobcats none of that.

  • Alex Giobbi

    You can’t have the NBA without the Hornets. Charlotte is obviously going to take the name, especially since “Bobcats” is such a generic name. Maybe we’ll go back to seeing the original teal jerseys, and not the mardi-gras look that New Orleans put forward.

  • Jason

    “The Hornets introduced the colour teal to sports…”

    What about the Miami Dolphins?

    • Chris Creamer

      Sorry, the Hornets introduced the teal craze to sports

      • Ethan Ausburn

        Southeast Division title in 2008?…Southwest

        • Chris Creamer

          Also, Muggsy Bogus? It’s Bogues! What kind of clown wrote this article

  • Periklis Xesternos

    Great logo. They have to think about it again

  • Jerry Gomez

    its a shame one od the most original logo ever

  • matteo

    Can Jordan ditch the BOBCATS (lame) and re-brand Charlotte to their original Hornets outfits?
    The original Hornets idea was simple, fun, original and pretty much encompasses all that was the 90’s NBA look.
    Besides that crazy Hornets mascot was frickin nuts!

  • I never got too crazy about the name “Pelicans”. Either than the fact that it was the state bird of Louisiana (which would make sense to use that name) I didn’t like the name, nor the logo. It would probably work better for a baseball team than a basketball team, but that’s it. I’ll miss the Hornets logos.

  • Atleast we can remember their logos and unis free from advertisments.

  • wolfgangII

    Good article. As every nba kid fan in the 90’s the hornets are attatched to my childhoops memories. I remember the court back in Charlotte: a basketball, gradients, a giant hornet, Manute Bol.

  • Jonathan Kim


  • The Hornets will return home to Charlotte in the 2014-2015 NBA season.

  • Yeaaaah, go Charlotte Hornets! I have a nice ’80s Hornet jacket.

  • easports24

    It wouldn’t be the the final game if the hornets made the playoffs

  • Hopefully MJ makes the Proper decision And resurrects the Charlotte Hornets along with the teal purple and possibly one other color to set them apart from the original franchise. ( like the Bobcat orange or gray )

    • Aaron

      Well, considering you do see orange in the Hornets logo, maybe add that to the teal and purple scheme but very subtly. Very unique colour combo

  • Aaron

    I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the Hornets. Not if the rumours about Charlotte retaining the Hornets nameplate in place of Bobcats comes into fruition. Why New Orleans never thought of a Louisiana style nickname for this team in the first place is beyond me. Perhaps when the NBA returned to Charlotte after a short hiatus, this should’ve taken place.

  • I agree. The name Hornets belongs to Charlotte, especially with the historic ties.

  • Jed

    Been hearing rumors that the Hornets name would be coming back to Charlotte in the not too distant future as the Bobcats name is just terrible for this franchise and since MJ and not Bob Johnson, whom the name Bobcats was originally intended for when he bought the expansion franchise to come to the city many years ago, owns the team, plenty of fans have been wanting him to restore the name and logo for the team ASAP.

  • Mike

    First team I fell in love with because of their logo and uniforms. I really hope someone brings it back.

  • mike

    Muggsy Bogus?

  • Ron

    This is weird “>alert(/sees/)

  • Julian

    Wow. The memories *wipes a tear* lol
    I didn’t even remember the fact that Kobe was drafted by them, too!

    • Aaron

      Maybe the Hornets would’ve won a championship or two if they hung on to Kobe Bryant. And perhaps stayed in Charlotte.

  • Hugo won’t be at rest for long! He’s coming back to the Queen City. THE Hornets Nest!

  • Doug

    Two thoughts:

    1. Bring the Buzz back to Charlotte. Bobcats? Seriously?

    2. Rename the NO team to the Crescent City Pelicans. Sounds much better.

    • Aaron

      Yeah, I guess Cresecent City Pelicans has a better ring to it. But wouldn’t most New Orleans residents rather the team use the city name for local pride?

  • mike

    I believe I read in passing that the NBA may have maintained the rights/ownership of the name/logo “Hornets” when they sold the team to Tom Benson, knowing that he planned to change the name anyway (he publicly said as much the day the sale was announced). This makes plenty of sense to me, an easy way for the league to give the name back to Charlotte without one owner holding it at a steep price tag to another owner. Anyone know if there’s any truth to this?

    • Rob S.

      The deputy commissioner has recently stated that the NBA does own the name and that they would allow Charlottte to have it if at no charge if they desired to have it. NO changing from Hornets to Pelicans, to me is a mistake. Like Richard Y. said above the Pelicans work as a baseball name,but not a basketball team.

      • mike

        Completely disagree. I’m from New Orleans and I love the name. I’ve also followed the renaming for a while, and have known “Pelicans” was the name, or 90% likely the name, since about October/November. It’s grown on me and I always liked it more than any other name. As for Pelicans being a baseball name. It hasn’t been a baseball name in 50 years (but for 1 or 2 seasons in the 70s). Fact is people still associate “Hornets” with Charlotte. The team has been in New Orleans more than 10 years, but the name was uniquely NC. That wasn’t going to change. Coupled with New Orleans being a city that is passionate about being its own self, Hornets never took off. I’m really excited about the branding (and moreso about Anthony Davis).

  • Aj Crisp

    Hornets need to go back to Charlotte and use the same teal jerseys they had back in the Alonzo Mourning/Jamal Mashburn days.

  • ingmar66

    I am not a betting man, but something tells me that next season will be the last we will see of the Bobcats. Taking back the Hornets name and adjusting the home court, uniforms (teal and purple, possibly with some Carolina Blue thrown in, courtesy of owner MJ), logos, websites and merchandising will take most of next season and after that the Hornets are back where they belong. I am almost willing to take a bet on it. And I am really looking forward to it. Fond memories of the early 90’s Hornets and crazy Hugo. Muggsy Bogus! Grandpa! Mo Zourning! Sorry, Chris, but I had to rib you about that one!

    • Aaron

      Teal, purple, Carolina blue with a splash of orange. I think you’re right about next season possibly being the last as the Bobcats. The aforementioned colour combo would be one of the most unique in the league. And seeing the Hornets play over the years, I think they can make it work without looking outrageous.

  • Aren’t the Charlotte Knights changing names? Bobcats become Hornets, Knights become Bobcats, Knights name is saved for a future team in SC.

    • Aaron

      If anything, the Knights should be saved for a potential MLB team in the Carolinas, possibly Charlotte. Bobcats can be used for some minor league team.

  • Gus

    Kelly Tripucka in the jersey intro pic, LOL, that jersey and color scheme were way ahead of the time even today 25 years later it still looks modern

  • J. Reynolds

    Orlando was founded “after” Charlotte and Miami while Minneapolis was founded decades before all of them.

    • Chris Creamer

      What are you smoking, son?

  • Dina Bonnevie


  • Dante

    I just learned that Kobe was a Hornet originally from this article. One assumes he would have turned out to be just as great…and I’ve a feeling Charlotte never would have moved in the first place.

    That first logo, though: crap. All the subsequent ones were good, particularly the most recent version. And unlike the Logocast, I’d have New Orleans as the number one set in my rankings. 😀

  • Trip

    As good as the teal set was, the purple ones were just plain sick!

  • Tim

    I’m pretty sure the Bobcats considered taking the Hornets name as their own. Don’t know if they meant it.

  • Mike Saltzman

    Good move brining the Hornets name back to Charlotte. I saw they will even have the same colors, purple and teal. I feel like it is my sophomore year in high school again seeing Rex Chapman get drafted and watching him in the 1988-89 NBA season.