There is definitely a buzz surrounding the Hornets on this Wednesday and you would think most of the attention would be on the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers are in town. It could be that NBA commissioner David Stern is in town and is spending the day going around the city. It probably however has lot to do with Tuesday evening’s report about the Hornets likely changing their name to the Pelicans as early as next season has the city talking.
“My thing has always been the name on the front of the jersey as long as it’s New Orleans I’m happy,” said Hornets head coach Monty Williams following his team’s morning shoot around at the New Orleans Arena. “The league controls all that stuff and I’m pretty sure there’s some local creativity going on and that’s great. Personally I’m more concerned with the fact that we are a New Orleans franchise because we all care deeply about this city and as long the team is here I’m cool with whatever name we have.”
Monty’s take is probably how a good number of fans feel about what the team is called but it does matter to an extent. The Hornets came over from Charlotte in 2002 and while when the team won fans turned out with large amounts of support, the franchise has struggled to truly connect with the nontraditional NBA fans. The main reason usually given by fans is that it’s not our team and they’ll leave at any minute.
It’s clearly the reason owner Tom Benson upon purchasing the team this past spring made it very clear that a re-branding was needed. Benson has also given contract extensions to head coach Monty Williams and general manager Dell Demps to further stabilize the franchise. Benson’s ownership help set things in motion as well in getting the community, state and region to feel like this was their basketball team.
“I’m playing for New Orleans. I’m playing for whatever this city stands for,” said forward Ryan Anderson at shoot around. Anderson has been a huge pick up this off-season as he is averaging 17.5 points a game and is first in the NBA in three-points made per game. “The mascot doesn’t really matter I’m playing for New Orleans. I’m happy to be here. It’s not really in our control. I definitely play for this city and I’m excited to be here and its tough when something is out of your control you know you can’t really have a say in it. I’m just happy to be playing in the NBA man. I’m pinching myself everyday that I’m here.”
Nothing has been made official about the name change and no doubt Wednesday evening when Stern will be made available to the local media the name change will probably be the first question.
OH ABOUT THAT GAME
It’s amazing that it almost feels as if the game on the court tonight may be on the back burner as the (5-11) Hornets face the (8-10) Lakers at the New Orleans Arena. Los Angeles lost 107-105 in Houston last night as they failed to hold on to a 13 point lead. Kobe Bryant scored 39 points and is 13 points shy of becoming the fifth player in NBA history with 30,000 points. “I’d rather wash my face with paint. I don’t want to see him score any points,” said head coach Monty Williams when asked what it would be like to see Bryant achieve that tonight in New Orleans. “.
The Lakers have been in turmoil all season as they’ve fired and rehired head coaches (Mike Brown for Mike D’Antoni), have an ailing Pau Gasol (knee tendinitis), have had their superstar call out Gasol (told him to put his “big boy pants on”), and guard Steve Nash has played only two games due to injury.
The Hornets are coming off of a 102-81 win over the Bucks at the Hive back on Monday. Rookie Anthony Davis has missed eight straight games with an ankle injury. While he won’t be on the court with the Lakers Dwight Howard his former teammate will. Ryan Anderson played with the Magic last season and says that while the Lakers are not playing great basketball, it’s still the Lakers.
“We want to beat every team. We have that mentality where we just want to come out and prove ourselves against every team,” says Anderson. “We’ve been really working hard and we’ve been getting better I think and we do want to prove that against an elite team and tonight’s a great chance to do that.”