Hello New Orleans Pelicans, Goodbye New Orleans Hornets; NBA Team To Announce Name Change Thursday

New Orleans Pelicans
On Thursday, the New Orleans Hornets will be renamed the New Orleans Pelicans. This design was part of a fan contest run by 99designs during early speculation of the name change in December. dinoDesigns/99designs

That blue hornet mascot is now an endangered species. Reports are indicating that the New Orleans Hornets will get rid of that moniker and will instead be the Pelicans starting next season.

The Associated Press broke the news that the NBA will have a new team, sort of, as the New Orleans Hornets will become the Pelicans. The Hornets was a borrowed name, a remnant from when the team was in Charlotte, N.C. The move from Charlotte to New Orleans occurred in 2002 and the Bobcats are now the team Charlotte roots for.

When the Seattle Sonics moved to Oklahoma, the name was changed to the Thunder. But for a decade, the Hornets kept their name and logo in their new home. But fans will get to root for the New Orleans Pelicans next year.

Sources confirmed the change to the AP. The Pelicans are expected to be introduced on Thursday and the color scheme will be blue, red and gold instead of the Creole blue, purple, Mardi Gras gold and white that make up the Hornets uniforms. The new ownership of Tom Benson, who purchased the Hornets last year and also owns the New Orleans Saints, prompted the change in logo and name.

The name change to the New Orleans Pelicans is a poorly kept secret. Benson filed trademarks for five different names in December, notes Yahoo! Sports. Benson initially considered Brass and Krewe as potential names but the trademark filings were for Swamp Dogs, Mosquitos, Rougarou, a mythical creature, Bull Sharks and Pelicans.  

This trademark filing, and everyone expecting Pelicans to be picked, led to a fun unofficial design contest by 99 Designs. Yahoo! Sports noted that Benson’s wife, Gayle Benson, said in an interview with Fox Sports New Orleans that blue, red and gold were her choice for color scheme, and it looks like she got her wish.

Interestingly, the New Orleans move could lead to another name change. The Charlotte Observer notes that the Bobcats sent out a poll asking about a change back to the Hornets and the comment section is full of fans wanting the old name back.

Louisiana’s state bird is the brown pelican and it’s a natural fit for New Orleans. The most fitting name for New Orleans would be the Jazz and it was for a time. AP notes that the Utah Jazz were the New Orleans Jazz between 1974 and 1979 before leaving to Utah.

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