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Report: New Orleans to change name from Hornets to Pelicans

Dec 4, 2012, 6:51 PM EDT

Detroit Pistons v New Orleans Hornets Getty Images

There are a whole lot of NBA teams with names that don’t match their cities cultures — the Jazz in Utah, the Lakers in the desert of Los Angeles, the Grizzlies in Memphis (not Vancouver).

New Orleans doesn’t want to be another one of those. Hornets and Hornets Nest is a Charlotte nickname dating back to the Civil War and maybe earlier. It’s part of that city’s identity. When the franchise moved to New Orleans the name went with them even though it didn’t fit in the Big Easy.

Now it looks like they are making a change, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports.

The New Orleans Hornets are expected to change their nickname to the Pelicans as early as the 2013-14 season, numerous sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Hornets planned to change their nickname since Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, purchased the team on April 14. Benson also owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans.

The pelican is not exactly the most intimidating of animals (unless you’re a small fish that swims near the surface of the ocean) but the brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana and even appears on the state flag. I like it, at least better than Hornets. It’s local. And you can’t name the team gumbo.

This opens up something interesting for Charlotte — a lot of people hate the name Bobcats there. There is a theory that founding owner Robert Johnson basically named the team after himself, and he was not a popular owner. A lot of fans want the Hornets name back… but it was taken. Now that could change.

By the way, the Jazz name is not leaving Utah. Ever. The Miller family plans to keep it so long as they keep the team. As is their right, the Jazz name has a tradition of winning in that city now.

  1. crackrocksandotterpopz - Dec 5, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    How about the Charlotte and New Orleans switch team names? That way, Charlotte gets the hornets back, and theNew Orleans becomes the Bobcats. New Orleans Bobcats doesn’t sound horrible…

  2. abchome - Dec 5, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    Oh, that’s great! Charlotte could get Hornets back, maybe Baron Davis as well lol

  3. thelakeshow562 - Dec 5, 2012 at 1:41 AM


  4. itsonlyaspeedbump - Dec 5, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….wait, wait, lemme catch my breath…BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  5. 32magicman - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:06 AM


  6. dko83 - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Logo should have unibrow.

  7. southpaw77 - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    If Utah wasn’t so damn stubborn on this we could have had a 3 way switch.
    New Orleans Jazz
    Charlotte Hornets
    Utah Bobcats (google it, plenty of them bobcats in Utah)

    Or since it’s the bee-hive state in Utah pick a new name like yellow jackets.

  8. southpaw77 - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    PS- Maybe Memphis can ditch Grizzlies and go with Hound Dogs, Blues, Soul, or something else.

    • davidly - Dec 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

      Maybe the Memphis Stax?

    • saint1997 - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:53 PM

      Memphis Hounds would be so cool. No joke that would be so fitting and just perfect

    • fomega64 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:22 PM

      If I wasn’t hoping that the Maloofs would be forced to sell the team to Chris Hansen, I would say Memphis and Sacto should both trade names. California’s state animal is the grizzly bear, but they were hunted to extinction years ago. But Sacto is also the state capital, so it’s more than fitting.

      Memphis Kings — come on, Graceland anybody? Home of the King? Tennessee as a whole probably has more musical history than any other U.S. state – a name referencing that history would be awesome.

      NO should have been the Hoodoo (not Voodoo), Krewe, or Bounce.

      Finally, this is offtopic – but rename the Wizards the Bullets.

  9. louhudson23 - Dec 5, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    Drive across Lake Pontchartrain and see the Pelicans flying alongside you. Majestic as hell. The Pelican is a New Orleans and Louisiana icon. Besides,lagniappe is too hard to spell…..The name fits and us folks know it. True dat…

    • fomega64 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      Whether it fits is only one part of the equation. Whether it sounds good is arguably just as, if not more, important.

      You guys should have been the Krewe or the Bounce or Mambo or Hoodoo. There is no excuse to give a basketball team at any level a name like the Pelicans. It works for baseball because baseball is a passive sport. I’d say you guys are off to a bad start if Benson is using this name just because he already owns it and is looking to save some coin.

  10. halfbaht - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    Pelicans does sound like a WNBA team. What’s wrong with calling the team the Cajuns? Either way, as long as it gets the Hornets name back in Charlotte, I don’t care

  11. BigBeachBall - Dec 5, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    New Orleans “oh & eighty-twos”

  12. franchiseplaya - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    saw a guy on twitter suggest the Voodoo. i like that.

    • cullenand99 - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:32 PM

      New Orleans has an Arena Football team named the VooDoo. Would be kind of weird having two teams in one city with the same name, unless the change the AFL team’s name

      • franchiseplaya - Dec 6, 2012 at 11:09 AM

        ahhh i didn’t know that, thanks.

      • fomega64 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

        Hoodoo would still work though, as would Mambo. Hoodoo is a cousin of Voodoo, and a Mambo is a high priest of Voodoo.

      • mogogo1 - Dec 10, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        St. Louis had Cardinals in both baseball and football for a while, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

  13. tbd3 - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    People insulting this team name: baseball has two teams named after specifically colored stockings.

    • tbd3 - Dec 5, 2012 at 3:22 PM

      Not to mention the Phillies (seriously?) and the Padres. I don’t really find Spanish priests that intimidating… It’s the white, Catholic ones you have to watch out for.

      • fomega64 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:30 PM

        Give me a break. It’s baseball! A team name like the Bobcats or Cavaliers would be just as out of place there as it would be for basketball. There’s a reason this name once belonged to a minor baseball league team and that’s how it should stay. Period.

  14. vinloubar - Dec 5, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    I love it when teams choose mascots linked to local history and culture. There are some mascot names that have traveled well (e.g., “Giants” and “Athletics”), but who can imagine the “Seattle Suns” or the “Atlanta Yankees”? The Utah Jazz works okay, because technically there are decent jazz clubs in SLC; and there are lakes in LA (every time it rains). Giving “Hornets” back to Charlotte would be terrific. “Pelicans” works well for New Orleans, especially if it helps conservation efforts for the endangered brown pelican. Now if they can also fix those ugly unis. . .

    • fomega64 - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:32 PM

      Lakers and Jazz are not in the same league as each other at all. LA LAkers at least has a ring to it, Jazz doesn’t fit at all.

      • jimeejohnson - Dec 8, 2012 at 8:56 PM

        Funny thing is the name Lakers moved with the team from the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota.

  15. rpkllc - Dec 5, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    New orleans Spirits

  16. thecrazyasianinseccountry - Dec 5, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    I was hoping they would changed it to, New Orleans Lafitte

  17. chicagofan - Dec 6, 2012 at 7:22 PM


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