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January 28, 2013

Say Goodbye to New Orleans Hornets, and Hello to New Orleans Pelicans

new-orleans-pelicans

Time to buy up all the New Orleans Hornets gear you can: The NBA team has announced it will become the Pelicans.

“This isn’t something that was just done overnight,” said team owner Tom Benson, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We are not just changing the name to change the name. The Hornets name came from Charlotte. That fits in with Charlotte. It doesn’t fit into New Orleans, La., or our area here.”

He continued: “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.”

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Designer Rodney Richardson told NBA.com that the team’s new logo embodies characteristics of the pelican that make it a symbol of the region.

“The focus, beauty and strength it displays when it dives from the air into the water for its food – we wanted to capture that strength and focus,” he said. “And as it represents new life, survival and resourcefulness, ‘New Orleans’ rests on its wings. References to the style, flourish and heritage of the city are subtly ingrained in the mark.”

Henson bought the team in April, and pledged at the time that he would rebrand it. The team also filed for a few other trademarks it opted not to use, including Mosquitoes, Swamp Dogs, Bullsharks and Rougarou, a mythical Louisiana creature, the blog Behind the Buck Pass reported in December.

The brown pelican is the Louisiana state bird, and appears on the state’s flag, seal, and license plates. Once an endangered species, it has rebounded — which marketers will attempt to tie to the Gulf Coast’s own gradual rejuvenation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Pelicans, unfortunately, do not strike fear in many hearts, no matter how tough designers make them look. Former Hornets superstar Chris Paul, traded to the Los Angeles Clippers last season after playing for New Orleans since 2005, was not impressed. “Pelicans??? ‪#ImNotRollin” he tweeted.

Dan Loumena of the Los Angeles Times agreed. “Something like the Mad Pelicans?” he suggested. “Angry birds could work, but not the New Orleans Pelicans.”

ESPN praised the logic behind the change, but called the logo “too ornate.”
Though NBA Commissioner David Stern has been a careful brand steward over the years, he said the name of the New Orleans team was a decision best left to locals. “Whatever works for a team works for me,” he said before the announcement.
Other NBA teams have kept their locally flavored names after a move and bonded with fans in their new cities nonetheless. The Minneapolis Lakers moved to the much dryer Los Angeles in 1961; the New Orleans Jazz moved to the far-less-swinging Utah in 1969. The Memphis Grizzlies were originally based in Vancouver, where there’s a much better chance of seeing one than in west Tennessee.

The Hornets first took their name in Charlotte after fans rebelled in 1998 against the “Charlotte Spirit” before the team even took the court. Fans selected a name from four of their own suggestions: the Hornets, the Spirit, the Knights and the Gold, with Hornets winning in a landslide.

Part of the Hornets’ local appeal, according to sportsecyclopedia.com,was the name’s link to local history that spanned to the Revolutionary War when British General Cornwallis supposedly used the word to describe the tenacity of the opposition in North Carolina. (“There’s a rebel behind every bush, it’s a veritable nest of hornets.”)

The Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, but the change in city hasn’t done much for the team’s play, with a string of medicore seasons except for a lone 2007-08 division championship.

posted by: Limité Staff
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