NBA commissioner David Stern spent the day in New Orleans getting a firsthand look at how the organization is running under Team Benson as he met with the Hornets staff and ownership much of the day on Wednesday.
It was less than seven months ago that the Hornets were purchased from the NBA. The league stepped in to help save the team by buying them on December 6, 2010 from then owner George Shinn. Benson agreed to purchase the Hornets on Friday April 13 of this year, and quickly began to use assets from the Saints side of things to help run the Hornets following formal approval. The basketball offices and facilities will be adjacent to the Saints building using space from the parking lot.
The Hornets also have a brand-new deal that keeps the team in New Orleans for 12 years so all that is left is the name change of course! “I don’t know? Everyone else seems to know about this other than me,” Stern responded when asked how much longer the team would be called the Hornets. “My guess is that there’s going to be some formal application or judication in the next couple of months and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
A Yahoo! Sports story citing several unnamed sources on Tuesday reported that the Hornets would be changing their name to the Pelicans as early as next season. Fans have been opinionated since the report with how they feel about going from Hornets to Pelicans. “I don’t have any objections to anything that the Hornets want to do namewise because I’m sure it’ll be sensible,” Stern said.
Stern never avoided talking about the name change topic but wasn’t exactly spewing out knowledge. “Is that what it is? You got better information than I do and I thought I was still the commissioner,” Stern said when asked about how he felt about the nickname Pelicans.
The process for changing names usually takes two years in order for the trademark protections fillings to go through, logo and merchandise design and re-branding to take place. The commissioner did reveal that the Hornets did file to protect five names but did not reveal those names. “I think the Hornets have a friend in the league office that might help expedite the process when they decide on a name,” Stern’s hint leads me to believe that indeed next season the New Orleans basketball team will be known as something other than the Hornets.
Stern seemed very pleased overall with his visit and it was a stark contrast from just two years ago where in the same media room he spoke about the possibility of the team having to leave New Orleans due to the lack of attendance and support from the business community. Stern said he is happy with the state of the team now.
“They’re a young team. Obviously they have two of their youngest and best players injured as we speak. They’ve got lots of cap room. They got their draft picks. They have a stable situation with Dell’s extension and they have one of the best young coaches in the league, who guarantees you, Monty does, that his team is going to come out to compete every single night and that’s the statement they’re making to the city and I think it’s great. “