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Friday, January 18, 2013

Buzz off: How I managed to piss off nearly every Charlotte Hornets fan in town

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Last month I wrote an opinion piece for CL explaining why I thought the Hornet's name should not return to Charlotte. In just five days it collected 17 comments, all from people who totally disagreed with me. Even my friends gave me grief.

Apparently I had kicked the hive.

Then I wondered if maybe there was more to all the Hornets fever than just a few irate commenters. That's when I discovered Bring Back the Buzz.

Scotty Kent is a 24-year-old middle school teacher by day and basketball crusader by night. He is the force behind Bring Back the Buzz, a grassroots campaign that's trying to return the Hornets name to Charlotte. I caught up with Kent to find out more about his endeavor. The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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What's the story behind Bring the Buzz Back?

In 2010, my brother Evan and I were watching a Bobcats game that would determine whether they made the playoffs, and the atmosphere in the arena was terrible. I told Evan, "It's like someone made the fans go away as some sort of punishment." So that night we reminisced about the good ol' days and thought, What if we could bring the Hornets back? We made a website, which didn't turn out well; it blared the theme song from the movie "Space Jam." Regardless, I called the Observer and the Bobcats to see if we could get some publicity or support. We heard nothing, and after two weeks our excitement wore off.

Then the NBA purchased the Hornets team in 2010, and rumors swirled that Charlotte was trying to convince NBA Commissioner David Stern to bring the name back to the Queen City. So, Evan and I made a plan. We bought the domain name www.bringbackthebuzz.com and spent an entire weekend building a new site. We recruited Steve Kwon, who knew Wordpress, and John Morgan of We Believe, another pro-Hornets site, and started working together.

The site has been "liked" nearly 11,200 times on Facebook. How did you guys feel when it took off? 

Everything started happening so freaking fast. Every night I came home from school and started working on pushing the site and our mission. Then everyone in the media wanted to talk to us. People from high school I never spoke to messaged me and said they loved what we were doing.

What kind of fans are members of your group?

There are many who, like me, love the Bobcats but love Charlotte too much to watch the team continue to struggle. There's a complacency in many of our fans. They accept mediocrity and make justifications when there is no excuse. We are fed up with the apathy this city has toward its NBA team.

Another type of member has not watched the NBA since the Hornets left. They claim that if the name returned, they will too. There are some people in this group, a very small percentage, who are still angry at how the Hornets left and take their frustration out on the Bobcats, which is wrong. That group is still upset by the way the arena referendum went down.

Does BBTB support the Bobcats, and  do you guys have a relationship with the team?

We love our city so we love this team, it is as simple as that. You will not find a group of people that has more pride in Charlotte. We want our team's identity to represent us.

We don't have a relationship with the team. They actually blocked me from their Facebook page for a few months.

Have you received any feedback from the NBA or the  New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans)?

Adam Silver, NBA deputy commissioner, was at the final game last year and said if returning the Hornets name to Charlotte was something this city wanted, it could happen. Stern said about a month ago, when the Pelicans were announced as New Orleans' new team name, "If Charlotte wanted to ultimately change their name back to the Hornets that would be OK with me." We have not spoken with New Orleans.

Has BBTB been fun for you?

It has been a blast, but there are times I wish I could turn it off for a second because it can consume you. It has opened my eyes to how the media twists what you say. I would watch or read one of my interviews and go, "Wait, that is not what I said at all." But it has been cool to see this community get behind what we are doing. It's made me grow to love Charlotte even more.

Tomorrow, BBTB will host SWARM at the Time Warner Cable Arena. Fans plan to meet at Fitzgeralds from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. wearing Hornets gear. From there they'll go to the Bobcats game, sit in the same section and cheer "for the Hornets," Kent said. Visit www.bringbackthebuzz.com for more details.

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