Hornets Owner Tom Benson on Thursday officially announced that the team's name will "switch to the New Orleans Pelicans next season," according to Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The Pelicans' team colors "will be blue, red and gold." Hornets officials said that the name change was "made after scouring more than 100 possible names in a search for the perfect fit." They settled on the name because it is the state bird and because team officials said that Pelicans "represent some of their biggest community efforts." Benson said, "The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here. The Hornets don’t mean anything here. We needed something that symbolizes New Orleans and Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. And nothing does that better than this name." Hogan reports the new logo and name will "begin popping up almost immediately." Some Pelicans merchandise was "expected to be available at the team’s store in the New Orleans Arena Thursday." Officials said that any marketing or advertisement for the '13-14 season will "carry the new logo and name." To expedite the name-change process, the Hornets had to "get special permission from the NBA." League rules typically require a "two-year period for a name change." The league also allowed a team for the first time "to begin making the transition in season." The Hornets originally received a "lukewarm response from the league on the name change." However, Hornets Senior VP/Marketing & Business Development Ben Hales said that the name "began to grow on league executives once they heard the history of pelicans and how the bird ties into the community" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/25). Hornets President Dennis Lauscha said that the franchise's Pelicans name will be the "cornerstone of the community efforts that primarily will focus on two challenges to the region involving the health and fitness of children and sustainability of the coastal wetlands" (NOLA.com, 1/24). Lauscha added that the pelican is “extraordinarily important not only to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana, it’s important to the whole Gulf Coast region” ("NBA Gametime," NBA TV, 1/24).
ADDING SOME LOCAL FLAVOR: YAHOO SPORTS' Kelly Dwyer noted the lettering in the new logo was "inspired by street signs that dot the city’s French Quarter." The team will "retain the very NOLA-ish Fleur de Lys symbol both in the main logo (up top) and in an alternate logo that replaces the head and beak of the bird inside the flower." The blue in the logo "stands for the state of Louisiana," while the gold represents the "glittery nature of the city of New Orleans." Dwyer: "What is less impressive is the actual bird in the logo. It’s pretty peeved, as you can tell; and while we weren’t expecting a cartoonish logo to have fun with, this new logo feels like something the Golden State Warriors would have come out with in 1997" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/24). ESPN.com's Paul Lukas wrote it "looks like the NBA's long-running rule about logos having to show a basketball remains intact." The lettering is "too ornate, too busy." The trend of "bookending the wordmark with a large letter on the right side is way overplayed by now." The secondary logos "are fine." Lukas: "Nice that they came up with the Bird-de-Lis to replace the Fleur-de-Bee" (ESPN.com, 1/24).
BORN ON THE BAYOU: In New Orleans, Jeff Duncan writes team officials "hit a home run" with the name change, as the entire re-brand, from the name to the logo to the conservation education plan, was "well-considered and executed." It might "take time for some folks to warm to the nickname," but "eventually they will." The Pelicans name "satisfies the two most important criteria for any name change." Duncan: "First, it's unique. ... Moreover, it's indigenous. You can't get much more Louisiana than the pelican." The only "more unique and indigenous name was already taken." The club "made a run at the Jazz nickname, contacting Utah officials early in Benson's ownership tenure to see if they'd be willing to return the name to its rightful owners." But a deal in the end "couldn't be worked out" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/25). TRUE HOOPS' Henry Abbott wrote, "If I were to summarize the nation's reaction to the Hornets becoming the Pelicans, in a word, I'd say: bemused." Locally, however, "things could not be more different." To the people who "chose it, this is, by far, the least amusing name in sports." Abbott: "Louisiana pelicans, we learned in the news conference, represent tradition, passion, resilience, pride, grandeur and charity. This is simply a regional difference in perception, and I respect that" (ESPN.com, 1/24).
MUSICAL NICKNAMES: In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman writes the Hornets' pending name change "opens the door for one of the stranger possibilities in the history of NBA record-keeping should the Charlotte Bobcats, an expansion team that replaced the Hornets after the team moved to New Orleans in 2002, attempt to reclaim the Hornets moniker." If that happened, the team in Charlotte still would "have a history dating only to 2004, when the Bobcats began play." The records and stats of the Charlotte Hornets from '88-'02 would "remain with the Pelicans." Then there are the Kings, "potentially headed to Seattle under new ownership." If they did, they could "reclaim the SuperSonics name, though the history of that franchise, which played in Seattle from 1967 to 2008, would presumably still be owned" by the Thunder. The Kings' history "would remain with the team in Seattle" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/25). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes a potential name change for the Bobcats "has to be about more than nostalgia." Reclaiming the Hornets name will "cost the Bobcats about $3 million." Sorensen: "Will fans buy tickets to watch a sub-.500 team simply because they like the name on the front of the jerseys?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/25).