So The Story Behind The Charlotte Hornets’ Uniforms & Mascot Is Pretty Interesting

05.23.13 5 years ago 13 Comments

Pic: Fat Shawn Kemp

The Charlotte Hornets will indeed be back, which is great for ’90s babies and jersey aficionados because there’s a chance the old teal-and-purple uniforms will reappear. When? It could be 18 months from now, but who knows.

But what is known is the interesting story behind the Charlotte Hornets’ cartoonish mascot and regal colors. BuzzFeed Sports discovered that upscale men’s fashion designer Alexander Julian created the colors and uniforms while Jim Henson’s daughter Cheryl developed the mascot, Hugo the Hornet.

Here are two of the more interesting anecdotes from the story.

On the misunderstanding that lead to fans thinking the Hornets’ uniforms would be pink:

“‘Way before there was any talk about involving me in the design, the fashion editor of the Charlotte Observer asked George if they knew what kind of colors they were going to use,’ Julian said. ‘He said he didn’t know but that they’d try to use the same ones chosen by the architect of the stadium, and when they mentioned that pink was one of them, she jumped. She had an artist design a pink uniform and ran it in the newspaper, and the reaction from radio shock jocks was horrific. I wasn’t there, but what I can tell you is when we had the press conference to announce that I was going to design the uniforms, the first 14 questions I took from the press were about whether or not I was going to use pink.’”

On how Julian wanted to be compensated for his work:

“His compensation from the Hornets came in the form of an alternative currency. ‘In North Carolina, ‘barbecue’ is a noun — pork shoulder, slow-cooked over a fire. It’s always been one of my favorite things,’ he said. ‘So I said to George that he could have the uniform design for free if he FedExed five pounds of Carolina barbeque to my Connecticut home each month. An extra hundred grand didn’t mean anything to me in those days, and barbecue did.’”

Also, initiative alert, recent college grads: Cheryl Henson landed the mascot gig after pestering Julian about a job, even though he wasn’t hiring at the time. BOOTSTRAP PULLING.

Check out the rest of the article here.

And for a true flashback, WCNC-TV’s footage from 1988, as the Hornets unveil their new uniforms with then-owner George Shinn, star forward Kelly Tripucka and designer Julian on stage together.

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