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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.

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