The minute Saints owner Tom Benson announced that he was venturing into the world of professional basketball by buying the New Orleans Hornets, he made it clear that with new ownership would come a new name.
Late Tuesday afternoon Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears reported that the Hornets have decided to change their nickname to the Pelicans and that it could come as early as next season. The Times Picayune is reporting that Hornets spokesman Greg Bensel is not confirming the name change and that it is a process and one that will eventually be decided by the league.The NBA has final say in name changes and must approve the change. It is a change that in the past has typically been a two year process to allow the manufactures time for logo and merchandise design.
According to the Yahoo! report that was based on multiple unnamed sources, the nicknames Krewe and Brass were also being considered. It would not be the first time a team would have the nickname Pelicans in the city as the New Orleans Pelicans played minor league baseball from 1887-1959 and a single season in 1977.
Perhaps a big reason for Pelicans being chosen is that Benson has owned the rights to the name for a number of years. Last week Benson’s wife, Gayle Benson, told Fox Sports New Orleans that she would love to see navy blue, red and gold become the team’s new colors.
The Hornets sent out a release early Tuesday that NBA commissioner David Stern would be in town for Wednesday night’s Hornets-Lakers game and would be available to reporters prior to tip off. No details as to why Stern would be made available or was in town were given. I thought it could have something to do with the city hosting the NBA All-Star game next season in February of 2014 but the leak on Tuesday seems perhaps as the reason for his visit.
Spears points out in his report that Louisiana is known as the Pelican State and the brown pelican is the official state bird and the pelican appears on the state flag.
It will be interesting to see in the coming days how fans take to the Pelicans name. On my radio show “the Sports Hangover” many callers have expressed the desire to try and be the Jazz again. There also seemed to be a lot of support for the Brass, the name a minor league hockey team had a few years back.
I always loved the Voodoo and would have loved to seen Benson buy that name back from the current Arena League team that is using it.
I think Pelicans will definitely create conversation. I’m kind of in the middle on it. Does it excite me to where I want to pre-order gear now! No. I also understand trying to tie the name to the area and the state.
The Hornets will only work if fans truly feel it is their basketball team, something that the Hornets since their arrival from Charlotte have struggled with. Fans have routinely expressed disinterest by saying it wasn’t their team. That is something that is hard to say right now.
There are no coaches, or players left from the days the Hornets played in Charlotte. New ownership has even gone as far as change the broadcasters on radio and television. The team under general manager Dell Demps and head coach Monty Williams are spearheading a rebuilding based on young talent that is highlighted by the 2012 top overall draft pick in Anthony Davis.