by Josh Wilson
Heat. Thunder. Grizzlies. Kings. All intimidating, regal, and otherwise important sounding names. Pelicans, not so much. On Monday, news came that the New Orleans Hornets are hoping for a name change as early as next season. Apparently, Saints owner Tom Benson, who purchased the Hornets in April securing a New Orleans sports monopoly, wanted to change the name from moment of purchase. BUT WAIT, there’s more. Not only does he want to change the team name but his wife also wants to change the current teal and purple color scheme to red, gold, and navy. Ever since the Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, the team has attempted to adapt the logo and mascot more to its new home, including the highly creative fleur de lis Hornet logo. The pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, and features the state flag. But most importantly, the name is owned by Benson. Also in consideration were the names Krewe (those guys who throw beads at the girls with daddy issues) and Brass (out of bounds and its brass ball…).
It’s clear that Benson and others inside the New Orleans organization want the team (and the city) to embrace the New Orleans culture and history. It pays to notice the little things though. When fashion decided to bring the 90’s back Charlotte Hornets gear came with it. I even wear my old Charlotte Hornets snapback. It’s safe to say that at least some of this has to do with breaking away from that image, finally moving the “Hornets” to New Orleans. If your girlfriend kept wearing her ex’s hoodie you’d be upset, but if everyone started to wear hats commemorating their time together, then you’d put a stop to it.
Michael Jordan knows how hot Charlotte Hornets gear is these days, and it’s safe to say Charlotte wants its girl back. “It’s definitely an interest down the road, but right now it’s the New Orleans Hornets,” Jordan told the Charlotte Observer. “We would definitely entertain the opportunity. That’s as much as we can say right now. We’ve heard the community ask the question, and we would listen.”
Here’s the thing though, Jordan is a genius. When the Hornets moved to New Orleans I thought as an 11 year old, that’s not the Hornets anymore. I get that teams want to carry with tradition but some names don’t work, just like the stunning lack of lakes in LA vs Minnesota. Anything Jordan can do to win people over to the Bobcats will help. With the additions of Kentucky standout Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and UConn star Kemba Walker and a decent start this season (7-9 3rd in division), they’re heading in the right direction. The problem here is that the Bobcats underwent a makeover/rebranding this season; dropping bob from the jerseys to become Cats (after adding a Kentucky player no less) and completely changing their logo.
Let’s not ignore the fact that currently, only hours after the announcement the name change has a 46% disapproval rating on ESPN’s SportsNation. And remember, the NBA is David Stearn’s world, we’re all just living in it. The NBA has final say in all naming and color coordinating of its teams, so don’t roll out those big bill pelican heads just yet.